Saturday, April 04, 2020

The bitter controversy surrounding NYC’s carriage horse industry - Full Article

Coronavirus has ground the city to a halt, but New York’s carriage horse industry has been rife with contention for decades.


On February 29, before coronavirus shut down New York City, a 12-year-old carriage horse named Aisha collapsed in Central Park. A 15-minute-long video of the incident shows her struggling to stand before she crumples on the side of the road. A trailer arrives to haul her away, and carriage drivers push her inside. Aisha was euthanized later that day.

It’s not clear what killed Aisha—one of about 200 horses registered to pull carriages in New York—but her death immediately sparked a firestorm.

Animal advocates, some New York lawmakers, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a longtime critic of his city’s carriage horse industry, blasted the incident as heartbreaking and inhumane. De Blasio tweeted that New York’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad is investigating. Animal advocacy group NYClass, which has long opposed the industry, immediately took to social media, circulating the video of Aisha’s death and accusing her handlers of “tormenting” her as she suffered.

The historic industry itself is on the defense. Christina Hansen, a carriage horse driver and spokesperson for Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park, which represents the industry, says Aisha’s collapse could be related to exertion, but it could also be a genetic, muscular, or hormonal condition. Hansen says the veterinarian who examined the horse back at the stables found her heartbeat to be erratic...

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