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A carriage horse collapsed on W45th Street and 9th Avenue late Wednesday afternoon, drawing a large crowd and eliciting a rushed response from the NYPD Mounted Unit.

NYPD Mount Officers assist the horse on W45th Street and 9th Avenue

“I was walking home and saw police racing by — and could tell something was up,” said Hell’s Kitchen local Paul Devlin. “There was a horse lying on the ground — the carriage was a few feet back and it didn’t look like it had been hit. By the time I got there, an officer from the NYPD Mounted Unit was already there,” he added. “The officers then shut down the block.”

Witnesses said the Mounted Unit officer cared for the horse, a 14-year-old known as Ryder — hosing the animal down and cooling it off with ice procured from local restaurants — as onlookers shouted advice from the sidewalk. The distraught horse carriage driver checked on his animal but ceded control of its care to the officers on hand. Devlin added that officers found a pillow to keep the horse comfortable.

The crowd on 45th Street. Photo: Naty Caez

“A vet arrived on the scene, and I heard him say, ‘We’ll have to tie his legs and winch him into the trailer’,” said Devlin, who added, “the horse must have heard this, because he got up after that. They led him into the trailer and took him away.” Devlin added that the horse carriage driver appeared to “bless himself” near the horse before taking the carriage away himself, with the nearby crowd chanting “How does it feel?!”

The horse as it began to stand. Photo: Paul Devlin
The driver returned the carriage alone. Photo: James Anthony


New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) — an advocacy group against horse carriages — has already responded to the incident, demanding that the City Council move to ban the practice.

Queens council member Robert Holden has introduced legislation proposing to replace horse-drawn carriages with electric vehicles by June of 2024.  District 3 City Council Member Erik Bottcher, in conjunction with Joann Ariola (Queens), Tiffany Caban (Queens), Shahana Hanif (Brooklyn), Kristen Richardson Jordan (Manhattan), Rita Joseph (Brooklyn), Christopher Marte (Manhattan), Chi Osse (Brooklyn) and Keith Powers (Manhattan) have signed onto the bill. 

Council Member Holden told 1010 WINS: “The time has come. This is the 21st Century. We shouldn’t have horses serving man for our pleasure.” 

A campaign promise made by previous New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013 included similar proposals to ban carriage horses. It did not pass, though de Blasio did push through the 2019 Carriage Horse Heat Relief Bill

The carriage drivers, represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), have pushed back against the ban, saying the horses are cared for with rigorous standards that are “the strictest carriage regulations in the country”. TWU President Tony Utano said in a statement: “This is about real estate, not horses. NYCLASS was founded by developers, and developers would love to put high-rises and hotels where the privately owned stables are located. It’s unfortunate that some Council members who have signed on to this bill have not even bothered to contact the drivers’ union to get labor’s view.”

Utano went on to argue that the horses receive top-notch care and are a more sustainable addition than cars  to the pathways of Central Park. “The horses receive physical exams by horse veterinarians two to four times a year; regular dental care; vaccinations; regular hoof trimming; and new shoes every four to six weeks. They have comfortable and clean stalls, spend their days in the 843-acre park – and get at least five weeks’ vacation on farms every year (many spend several months on farms). It took many years of hard work to get cars out of Central Park. Nobody – except those with a financial interest – wants motorized vehicles to return,” he added.

In response to the latest statement from NYCLASS, District 3 City Council Member Erik Bottcher tweeted: “The current laws to protect these horses aren’t working. I’m a proud co-sponsor of Intro 573, which would end this practice.”

Aerial footage of the New York carriage horse collapsed on 9th Avenue. Credit: Dan Shoop

UPDATE: The NYPD sent W42ST the following statement: “On Wednesday, August 10, 2022 at approximately 1704 hours, police responded to a 911 call of a collapsed carriage horse at the intersection of W45th Street and 9th Avenue. Upon arrival, patrol officers observed a carriage horse lying in the middle of the roadway in distress. NYPD Mounted officers responded to the scene and were able to offer temporary aid to the horse by hosing it down to help it cool off. The horse was removed to a private horse stable in W38th Street and 10th Avenue, where it is conscious and awaiting proper veterinary care.”

TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano sent W42ST the following statement: “We thank everyone for their concern about Ryder, one of the beloved Central Park carriage horses. The veterinarian believes Ryder has EPM, a neurological disease caused by possum droppings. This is another example why people shouldn’t rush to judgement about our horses or the blue-collar men and women who choose to work with them and care for them. Sadly, horses — like people — can get sick.”

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65 Comments

  1. How much more trauma will we continue to put these poor horses through because of the “powerful union” that represents the carriage workers? The abuse of these animals continues to be a blight on the city. The mayor, city representatives who aren’t doing anything about it, and anyone else who supports this antiquated practice are all complicit. Horses do not belong on the streets of the biggest city of the country in 2022.

    1. I so agree!! Put the horses where they belong! In the beautiful fields and farms!!!
      This is cruel!! No more Please!

      1. ” Put the horses where they belong! In the beautiful fields and farms!!!
        This is cruel!! No more Please!”

        You believe they will be sent to an equine retirement farm?

        Sadly they will be auctioned, most likely to a slaughterhouse south of the border, jammed into trucks without any care to a horrible end.
        But it can be worse! They may end up at a “charreadas” HORSE TRIPPING RODEO!!! Having its legs broken in a sadistic “sport”. Look it up.

        Becareful what you ask for.

      2. Putting horses in green fields can also lead to death as many develop a diabetes like condition called Metabolic Syndrome that comes from eating rich grass that they were not designed to eat. It destroys their feet and they have to be on tightly managed diets the rest of their lives or live in pain. Horses evolved in desserts and are more suited to travelling many miles a day to obtain desert grass where they can find it, keeping hooves and teeth worn down w/o human care.

      3. Nope, not beautiful fields. Just the slaughter pipe line. That horse is NOT tended to properly. You can count every rib and hips stick right out. what a shame and unless rescued by some horse sanctuary it will go to slaughter.

    2. I have raised, loved, trained and competed horses in higher level competition for many years. First, this horse does appear to be somewhat underweight. 14 years old with a diagnosis of EPM makes it likely that it is difficult to maintain his condition and he likely should be retired from service. This said, people do not understand that there is no automatic, pastoral fate for retired horses. I advocate lifelong ownership. My elderly horses retire on our farm and when they pass, are buried at home in the green fields where they lived. We are very fortunate, and so are our horses. Many older horses pass from home to home until they end their lives in a slaughter pen. In the U.S., over 40,000 thoroughbreds each year alone (not counting other breeds) end their lives as meat for the tables of Japan, France and other countries. There is no neat, idyllic solution to the reality of what to do with these horses, any more than there is an easy, sweeping solution for the number of unwanted dogs and cats who die on the streets every day, without even the chance for humane euthenasia, much less a loving home. I realize there is a contingent of people who seem to think that horses should only live in ‘the wild’, but the hundreds of breeds that we have today owe their existence to many centuries of human intervention to turn the small, wild ancient horse into a companion for work, sport and recreation. There is no ‘returning them to the wild’. There aren’t enough resources, land or caretakers to ‘retire them’ to the bucolic countryside. Are you ready for a world where you can’t have a dog or a cat as a companion? Are you prepared for the wholesale slaughter and ultimate extinction of millions of domestic cattle, sheep, birds etc. because you think it is kinder that they don’t exist at all?
      Donate your time and resources to organizations that aid these animals. If you are a horse or pet owner, consider committing to lifelong responsibility for each animal you own. If you advocate for only ‘wild state’ existence of all animals, commit to no pet ownership, no animal product use, and commit at least 20 percent of your time and income towards making this happen. Perhaps someday, if enough people commit themselves to this goal, we will exist in the paradise you believe will result. In the mean time, there is our real world, full of domesticated species that were created by humankind who need our love and attention to their welfare.

  2. Did you see the video of the “caring” driver torturing this poor animal, pulling on his head, to get up??? He blessed himself only hoping his money maker would be able to trot again tmrw. The protruding ribs abs hips will hopefully get this horse seized and held for care. Disgusting.

    1. I don’t know what horse you saw but the one pictured with this article is in very good physical condition. When any horse lies down you can see the”protruding” hip bones & ribs. That’s just how horses look.
      Those carriage horses have it pretty easy compared to Amish farm horses.

    2. When a horse goes down like this (The horse has been diagnosed with EPM) it’s very important to get them standing ASAP. Ryder is a standardbred so his weight is probably 1100 to 1300 pounds. Having all that weight staying in a laying down position for too long can be dangerous.

  3. Shame on people who ride these!
    Animal abuse on top!
    How are these carriages legal in a city like NYC?

  4. This is horrific. How many more horses have to suffer and die before this cruel and archaic form of “entertainment” is ended once and for all? Does Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams and the City Council have any compassion at all for these poor animals? It appears that the answer is no. Shameful.

  5. They should have carriages without horses, it’s so cruel and inhumane in the summer is so hot and in the winter is so cold for them I hope they find a solution.

    1. No, you need to leave other people alone to make their own choices. State your opinions, educate if you think you have a good case, but you have no moral or legal right to harass people. Your authoritarian proclivities are endangering NYC and our country!

  6. The horse had a neurological issue caused by possum droppings. It would have happened whether in a field or pulling a wagon.
    The horse is in good physical condition. I’ve seen horses with poor body conditions.

    Horses are better for the environment than battery cars. Batteries pollute the environment by leaking toxic chemicals. To get he raw materials for batteries, they have to be mined. They are destroying habitats in order to obtain the raw materials.

    Instead of focusing on this horse, lend your support to stop the inhumane roundups of wild horses. Many are maimed or die. The BLM sends them to slaughter houses across the border.

    No tourist wants to ride through Central Park in a battery car. Why don’t they just ban cars from Manhattan and allow only horses, bikes emergency vehicles, and buses? The emissions would go down quickly.

    1. Spare us your carriage horse industry lies and propaganda. You all always have an excuse as to why a horse goes down, dies in his stall, etc. You are cruel and selfish animal abusers through and through. Please find an honest line of work that doesn’t involve harming animals.

      1. How much do you know about horses and their care and their medical needs?

        I am not in the carriage industry. I am an experienced horse person who has owned horses and cared for them.

        Have you ever owned a horse or cared or one?
        If not, your opinion regarding the reason the horse went down is uninformed and ignorant.

        Go to a horse auction and look at the horses there. Then you will begin to know the difference.

      2. I can say as a groom who has cared for horses with EPM it’s true. Many horses have been exposed to the parasite which is spread through the droppings of the possum. However not all of them will develop symptoms – and some may not show signs of EPM for months or even years. It can also be managed with medication and horses with EPM can still have excellent lives.

    2. Stop pretending the horses are being used as a means of transportation.
      The horse carts are the activity it’s self.
      If that was really the issue they could use scooters or ride in carts powered by people on bicycles.
      But that said, I doubt these horses are treated that badly. There are far more inhuman things going on, and more significant issues at hand. We have a country of people who can’t tell fact from fiction and don’t value education or intelligence. That’s how he get a semi-retarted gameshow host as president of the country.

  7. i am glad someone else commented on the visible ribs and protruding hips on this horse. clearly, this sentient being is not being cared for properly. and, if he is suffering a neurological problem…why is he working now? furthermore, why are ANY of these horses still working?

  8. Horses have been pulling vehicles for centuries. People have been riding around in horses for millennia. It’s not barbaric, it’s something horses are adapted and bred to do.

      1. No they are not but I am a dressage trainer and my horses are all thrilled to see me and happy for their workouts those of you who don’t actually understand or know anything for that matter about horses other than look mommy a pretty pony please get off your high horse this horse could have dropped weight dramatically over the last couple days even after contracting EPM and they could have already upped the horses food intake in the attempt to put weight back on but EPM isn’t something that presents itself in any way in particular this collapse could have very well been the first indication the horse actually gave that something was wrong. I love horses and I am all for them not being abused but they actually do like having a job if you have worked with any other animals you will know what I am talking about all my horses work beacuase thay want to not because they have to! (If you don’t work with animals and don’t understand anything about them other than pretty please shut up and leave this to the professionals)

  9. Horses are anachronistic. They pollute and stink Central Park and adjacent streets. They can be readily replaced with ELECTRIC and NONPOLLUTING carriages.

    1. You mean non-polluting electric vehicles? The ones that are powered by charging batteries from a power plant powered by coal. I do hope the horse will be OK and the real reason for his episode is revealed whether it is the heat or the virus. I did not like to see his ribs and hips protruding and that is one of the first things I did notice. Surely they do need better care.

      1. My hip bones protrude when I lay on my side. And I am NOT thin. So that may be partially the case for this horse. Also, as stated above, the possum virus thing could also be a factor.

  10. it’s all about money……………they could care less about the life or health of the horses and that goes for the people that hire them

    1. How are you so sure? I don’t think men get into driving these carts thinking they’ll make a lot of money. I’d guess most love horses and want to work with them. But I agree that a hot polluted city is no place for a horse and the people hiring them are ignorant like most of these vain people posting videos of themselves online. Of all the things on earth to photograph, they believe the most beautiful thing is… themselves.

  11. Here in New Orleans where it’s a subtropical climate, we switched from horses to mules 40 to 50 yrs ago after the tragic death of a horse in summer. They’re treated well, like the horses in NYC, lots of vacation on the farm and all that jazz. And mules are smarter than horses. Look people, I used to live up there with you rude, avaracious, selfish, hateful selves (with apologies to the kind, decent minority of New Yorkers). Your city is just high rent, Starbucks and Duane Reades anymore. The carriages afford the public some old world charm, class, and jobs. The comments of Horse Persin are right. I wonder if any of the anti-carriage cry babies eat meat, or own dogs? Pfft. Glad the horse got back up, and those drivers still have work. Time for mules, maybe? They can take the heat better, and the average dumb-ass (pun intended) can’t tell the difference either.

  12. Horses are much preferable to cars in Central Park. These horses are well cared for and live much longer than horses in the wild. They are enjoyable and memorable to ride.

  13. A horse collapses!! Its global warming because horses never collapsed before!!! We should also ban cats and dogs as pets because they are supposed to be free and wild like all animals!!!! I need to go hug a tree to calm myself…. be back later once I can calm myself in the safe space.

  14. I hope the well meaning souls demanding an end to working horses realize what happens to animals that have no purpose. Ever heard of an abattoir? Old dogs and horses don’t really get to go to a nice farm in the country to live the good life. Instead, horses get stuck on trains to Mexico, without food or water for days, in brutal heat. When they are unloaded, these poor animals are killed in a much less quick and painless manner than we slaughter animals here in the U.S.

    1. Good point. I’d hope that the horses are outlawed along with money set aside for their future care. There must be enough decent people who would adopt them. If I didn’t live on the other side of the country I would adopt one, or if given money for their care adopt several.

  15. Disgusting to think that horses are still used in this manner. You wanna drive a horse cart? Drive an Uber instead or a bike.

  16. Such a disgusting practice to continue to use horses to appease tourists. This must stop. Part of the problem is people who continue to take carriage rides never once consider the animal that is pulling them. This particular horse is 17 years old. Shameful.

    1. Actually, Ryder is 14. He has a condition called EPM which can be managed with medication. He was only recently diagnosed – many horses are exposed to the EPM parasite but may not show symptoms for months or even years. A healthy, well cared for horse can have a working life into their twenties. They’re very intelligent and resiliant animals.

  17. Cruelty to animals is criminal and should be prosecuted. Feel what the animals feel, for animals have much to teach us all., heart of compassion, I’d like to hear how the horse is doing now., and it’s fate. No animal should be out in this heat, for heavens sake it’s common sense.

    1. Well let me up date you the horse was diagnosed with EPM it will cost an extraordinary amount of money to try to save him from this horrible disease if they even can but gosh yea that heat….

  18. I don’t understand all the anger about the horse. If you think this is cruel, then you better not ever visit Amish neighborhoods, where there horses work harder, longs and haul bigger carriages than the ones in NY. That’s what horses are made for, and every country in the world depended on horses to plow, transport people and goods, and do other kind of work. Its not cruel to have horses work, and like the article said, the NYC horses have it way easier than most people’s pets.

  19. NYC should end the use of carriage horses. There are too many horses in the world and eliminating their usefulness will reduce their species even more. That will be the ultimate result of banning the use of horses. Fewer will live and fewer will experience life. I guess that is what people want.

    1. It’s not that fewer horses will exist they will need to reopen slaughter houses because all these horses will be out of work but people will not stop breeding horses just like they will not stop breeding themselves all that will happen is more horses will go for glue and dog food because they won’t have a job anymore and it’s easily $1000 a month or more to keep a horse nobody is paying that for a pasture ornament

  20. Horses are thoroughly adapted to interact with humans. In many cases they are like family. I would love to have, and care for, a horse if my lifestyle permitted. To think that these horses can traverse Central Park and environs regularly is a helluva lot better than what most creatures experience, especially considering how they are otherwise tended to. Don’t label me anachronistic, because I am devoted to recycling, own an electric car, use solar panels, vegetarian, and so on. All creatures have needs and places in the world, including, in this case, a job that is part and parcel of what they are. . . who they are.

  21. Horses and carriages are used all over the world and in many frequently visited tourist locations. They are iconic and most of us love the sight, feel and experience. There is absolutely no reason that regulation and enforcement cannot allow this much beloved tradition to continue at the same time that healthy, sustainable equine practices are maintained.

  22. The “…man’s pleasure” argument applies to all domesticated animals. How many making it own cat, dogs, fish, opossum, rats, pigeons, penguins?

  23. It feels nice to want to ban this practice, but has anyone considered what the horses are going to do if they can’t work, which is what they are bred to do ?
    Where is their home, who is going to take care of them, who is going to pay their bills? Many will be doomed to the factory if their positions are eliminated. The solution is to ensure their working lives are better, not eliminated.

  24. Why isn’t PETA protesting in the streets or suing? Doesn’t this qualify as abuse or do they only care about elephants and animals used for fur coats?

  25. Most of the commenters are not horsing around. I love taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. The horse doesn’t seem to mind. Why did G od create horses? I believe that most are well cared for, as they provide a living. Would you rather have a carriage driver go on welfare?

  26. I agree that horse carriages on are not a healthy environment for the horses in 2022 New York, but keep in mind 110 years ago horse carriages were the primary means of transportation. What comes into question and not noted in the article is why wasn’t the horse properly hydrated?

  27. I haven’t lived in NYC since the ’90’s so forgive my ignorance but I thought that horse & carriage traffic was confined to the park which, for me begs the question: what the hell was that animal doing on 9th Avenue?

  28. The horse was not well treated. He had scars on his withers and was extremely thin. This is not the condition of a well fed and cared for horse. Sad!

  29. A service animal is never happier than when he is doing what he was bred to do. You ban this practice and a very large percentage of the hundreds of animals in the city will end up at the rendering plant or offered up for a growing demand for horse meat globally and nationally. Now that is “triggering” to me. Service animals are not for the table. Their ability through time and breeding to adapt and assist us is what separates them from other protein sources. Life is not a disney tale. These whiners have no more depth of experience in the wider world than that.

  30. The irony of people complaining about a working horse… I bet they lock their dog up in a townhome for 13 years and take the dog for a 15 minute walk a couple times a month. Again, ironic, that the only solution is to further remove animals from our culture instead of implementing regulations to protect the animal.

  31. Considering how the driver continued to hit the horse w the reins and then sat in his carriage on the phone “smirking” per some friends who were there & the video & then did nothing to assist NYPD when they arrived, I challenge ur description of the driver as “distraught”. Horses do not belong on the streets of NYC. People drive like nuts & I live on a street they go down to the stables. Cars honk & try to squeeze around them. They are living sentient beings and they have no business on the streets competing for space. And WE have no business making them work dragging carriages in Central Park. It’s time. Bring on the electric cars & get rid of the carriages.

  32. This horse Ryder was recently diagnosed with EPM. Many horses are exposed to the parasite but not all will develop symptoms – and some may not show signs for months or even years. He’s only 14 – so providing he gets appropriate medication and plenty of TLC he could still be a good carriage horse.

    And for everyone saying this should end completely – did you ever stop to think about what would happen to the horses if it did? Every action has a consequence so think about potential consequences before saying something ignorant.

  33. All right look, I get it, grew up in Gotham. City people know NOTHING about horses and mules (and think they know EVERYTHING). All you stupid mother truckers commenting about animal welfare: Do you flush your toilet? Do you use plastic, batteries, electricity (that you didn’t generate yourself), a motor vehicle, planes? Do you get your food at the supermarket, eat meat, and/or watch TV, or vote Democrat or Republican? If so, you’re such a hypocrite, because you’re contributing to the decimation of wildlife habit, on land and sea. Large scale agriculture and transport wouldn’t have been possible before the 1900s without humans partnering with animals, as God intended.
    Unless you live off the grid and live off the land in a primitive, indigenous-person’s dwelling, kindly fermez la bouch, cher.

  34. Greetings from Mennonite country! Those defending horse labor are missing the mark a bit here. Horses in NYC may have proportionately higher care regulations because their work is significantly higher risk than work outside the city. I live in Hell’s Kitchen by the stables, and it is not the 18th century romantic dream folks wish it would be. These horses do not *only* work in Central Park, they carry tourists through heavy and aggressive traffic up and down the avenues, through cars desperate to get on the Lincoln Tunnel or West Side Highway. The noise pollution, high speeds, unpredictable (and dangerous) lane-switching, gridlock and road rage are a huge factor in making this work toxic for horses. It can’t be compared to other communities using horse labor — 5th Ave does not resemble country roads, concrete and asphalt aren’t fields of grain, NYC tourism is not basic transportation in a traditional way of life.

    Of course this should be phased out in a way that allows blue collar workers to continue serving our visitors and horses not to be met with violent ends. That part is easy: no new horses, and a good transition plan for those in our care (whether that’s humane work & living quarters restricted to parks or something else).

    Those who flag motor vehicles as the problem have a point. Cities built for humans and the animals we love should run on safe & clean public transit systems, walkable streets and bikable roads. Vehicles should be a last resort for otherwise immobile people and oversized tasks: passenger pickup of the elderly, less-abled, etc. and larger tasks like deliveries and moving. (Though for personal use, many of those can be done by cargo bike!) Battery technology may not be perfect but it’s improving by the day, and a quaint electric Ford Model T or other antique car is an even more charming and appropriate step back in time in the bustling city that is New York than the horse-drawn carriage.

    Maybe someday we’ll earn our horses back, for riding lessons on quiet dirt roads, or slow romantic carriage rides through a fitting bridal path in a green park. Drivers can carry tourists through populated areas in electric trolleys or private vintage cars, quietly and SLOWLY. Those might be fitting conditions to operate alongside horses.

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