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Carriage Horse Accident Injures Three Near Central Park

August 16, 2012 | Horse Carriages New York

August 16, 2012 | By Nikhita Venugopal, Aidan Gardiner, Leslie Albrecht

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UPPER WEST SIDE - A spooked carriage horse suffered minor injuries after colliding with a car near Central Park on Thursday afternoon, police and fire officials said.

The four-legged melee injured the horse-drawn carriage's two passengers and its driver, who were treated at local hospitals, police said. The extent of their injuries wasn't immediately available.

Emergency responders raced to the scene at Seventh Avenue and Central Park South at 4:20 p.m. after the scared animal broke free from its carriage, bolted through traffic and apparently ran into a parked car, officials said.

The brown and white horse was spotted a short while later tied to a lamp post on the west side of Ninth Avenue between West 57th and 58th streets.

The animal, who was still wearing a harness adorned with red velvet, had bloody cuts on its nose. The horse appeared to panic and whinny, then fell on its side. The NYPD's Mounted Unit took the horse back to its home stable on West 52nd Street and 12th Avenue, police said.

A tourist said he saw the immediate aftermath of the carriage crash at West 60th and Broadway. Chris Harvie, a visitor from Australia, said he saw an overturned carriage, but no horse. The carriage appeared to have collided with a black sedan. One of the carriage's rear wheels was completely destroyed, Harvie said.

"The carriage was on its side," Harvie said. "The very nice black shiny limo was covered in horse poo."

A carriage driver who saw NYPD personnel bring the horse back to the stables said the creature appeared to be fine. "He was on all four legs and he walked up the stairs to the stable," said carriage driver Christina Hansen, 32, who drives a 9-year-old horse named Tyson. "All things considered, he seemed pretty calm."

Hansen said carriage harnesses are designed to break free in the event of an accident to protect horses from injury. She noted that the scared horse seemed be heading home, in the direction of the stables, after it got spooked.

A June accident involving a carriage horse, a motorcycle and an SUV at Columbus Circle injured the horse and renewed criticism of the carriage horse industry, which has come under fire from animal rights activists.

Priscilla Feral, president of the advocacy group Friends of Animals, said Thursday's accident was another reminder that horses don't belong in an urban setting.

"We return to the same theme over and over again about whether New York City could possibly be the right environment for a horse, and it can't," Feral said. "You can't make it sane, you can't make it safe. The chaotic streets of New York aren't going to work for a horse and it's a dangerous situation for drivers, tourists, for everybody."

Feral said her group would gladly help place New York's estimated 220 carriage horses in safe sanctuaries where they could live out their remaining days "with dignity."

But Hansen, who said she's worked for years with horses and helped set up sanctuaries for carriage horses, defended the industry. "We do everything we can to have a safe work environment for the horses because it's our safety too," Hansen said. "These horses are the most regulated, most public, most seen horses in the world."

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The best thing we can do is to keep pushing for the horses to have a large area to roam, free of harnesses, barns to be housed in that are fireproof, a shorter working day with harness free lunch hours and breaks etc. all inside Central Park AND have car free lanes for these horses to carry the tourists around inside the park. That keeps them safe from cars, from being spooked & from humans who have control over them keeping them standing tail to face along the streets for hours unable to walk around at all until someone hires the stupid human. The city would make money off the rental of stalls and licensing fees and the horses would have a natural setting to run around in free from the leather that controls their every move. If we can't get this, then lets abolish the practice and get the horses homes with people who are known to take very good care of horses (its expensive to do that) and free them from the slavery they are made to endure after putting in years of labor on Amish farms!

Why did the title of this article say Runaway Carriage Horse Injures Three People? The horse didn't hurt anyone. The cars did. It wasn't in any way the horse's fault. Also, what supporters of this industry don't seem to get is that it's not just a matter of safety, it's a matter of what's best and fair for the horses. It's not fair to them that they have to spend the start and end of every day locked in a little stall and the rest of the day on filthy, crowded, backed up, noisy, dangerous city streets. They need green, open pastures where they can graze, folic, play and socialize with other horses. They need to live like horses and they'll never have that in the city.


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