The increasing number of accidents featuring New York City carriage horses has raised alarm among city residents and animal activists everywhere. While some instances have resulted in justice, such as the arrest of Ian McKeever, the carriage horse industry continues to inflict emotional and physical damage on the horses involved.
On Nov. 26, 2023, a carriage driver lost control of his horse, Gunnar. The poor creature went into a panic and crashed into several cars, injuring himself and prompting an outcry from the community. Here's what you need to know about the situation — plus what New Yorkers think of carriage horses and their efforts to stop the practice.
Gunnar, a NYC carriage horse, crashed into multiple cars after the driver lost control.
According to Pix 11 NY, around 3 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2023, Gunnar and his driver were near West 55th Street in New York City when the carriage canopy fell on the driver. As the driver tried to fix the canopy, the frightened horse dragged the carriage and collided with four vehicles. A report by PETA suggests that a mechanic was trying to fix the carriage and was also present for the accident.
After Gunnar collided with the vehicles, he freed himself from the carriage, not the harness. On the West Side Highway going northbound, he slipped and fell, as per W42ST. Two off-duty officers from NYPD's Mounted Unit assisted in getting Gunnar into a trailer, where he was taken back to Clinton Park Stables for a medical evaluation, according to a post by the NYPD on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Christine Hansen, a spokesperson for Clinton Park Stables, gave an update on Gunnar's condition to W42ST. "Gunner has been seen by the vet. He received some stitches for a cut on his front leg from broken equipment and is on stall rest. He’s a good patient and is doing well,” she said. “His driver has been receiving medical evaluation and treatment at Mt Sinai, where he took himself after ensuring his horse was safe at the stable and after assisting the NYPD Mounted Unit with their reports."
Many New Yorkers would like to see an end to the carriage horse industry.
Many New Yorkers and animal activists have been outspoken about an end to the carriage horse industry.
In a statement emailed to Green Matters, Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS, said: “This is another prime example of why New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Mayor Eric Adams must take swift action to fast-track and pass legislation to remove cruel and unsafe horse carriages from Midtown streets."
Birnkrant added, "Forcing horses into Midtown traffic is a clear public safety danger as well as animal cruelty — it must end immediately. The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers polled want horse carriages removed from our streets. It's time for the NYC Council to start listening and to take action."
NYC Council member Robert Holden also issued a statement on Gunnar's tragic accident on X. He wrote, "Again, a horse carriage incident. When will we stop bowing to profit-driven special interests at the expense of safety and animal welfare? The solution is simple: electric carriages. It’s a win for horses, workers, and the public. Pass Ryder’s Law, and we all win!"
Ryder's Law, or Intro 573, is a piece of legislation that would ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
There is a humane solution for those still hoping for a carriage experience in New York City! NYCLASS and the ASPCA have collaborated to propose electric, horseless e-carriages to spare horses from further pain. Both organizations offered to find suitable homes for the 200 carriage horses so they would be well cared for.