Footage went viral when a New York City horse collapsed while pulling a carriage through busy streets. Likely due to heat exhaustion and being overworked, the horse reportedly lay on the road for over an hour while his driver seemingly hit and screamed at him.
Horses used to pull tourist carriages have caused concern and outrage in Canada in recent years, too. In 2016, in Vancouver, a car horn spooked a pair of horses who ran off, lost the carriage driver, and crashed into a park bench. In 2018, in Victoria, a bus bumped into a carriage causing two horses to fall. In 2020, Montréal banned calèches from its streets due to concerns about animal cruelty. And concerned citizens continue to raise the alarm for horse welfare in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ottawa, and Charlottetown, where horses pull tourists through busy, traffic-filled streets.
Forcing horses to pull carriages and trollies in urban environments poses serious safety risks to both the animals and the public. The Vancouver Humane Society points out that regular exposure to traffic, noise and pollution; the long hours of standing and walking on hard surfaces; and the hard labour under sometimes extreme weather conditions are not consistent with a horse guardian’s responsibility to provide high-quality, long-term care for horses. Causing horses to suffer is also illegal under provincial and federal animal cruelty laws.
Horse-drawn carriages should be a thing of the past. Instead of dodging distracted drivers, risking respiratory ailments from exhaust fumes, and pulling heavy loads across hard surfaces, horses deserve the right to live their lives with other horses out at pasture, enjoying themselves.
How to Help Horses
Please speak out if you see horses being used to pull carriages:
- Write to businesses that sponsor horse carriage rides at local events.
- If your town allows horse-drawn carriages, write to your councillor or elected representative, explain the cruelty involved, and ask them to propose a municipal ban. Consider asking your city to transition the industry to safer, more humane alternatives, such as electric carriages or rickshaws.
- Let your friends and family know that there is nothing romantic or fun about being pulled by an exhausted animal while on holiday.
- And sign the petition to keep updated on the campaign to help horses.
Banner: Aaron Gekoski | HIDDEN | We Animals Media