A deeply biased article about the horse-carriage industry appeared in a recent issue of Mountain Xpress [“Yay or Neigh: Carriage Tours Draw Fans, Protest,” Oct. 28]. You could easily tell the author’s personal opinion was very pro-horse-carriage. Not only was this article inaccurate, it was not good journalism. A good article provides balanced opinions, whereas this article dwelled excessively on the opinions stated by the carriage owners and the author herself. It only very briefly mentioned the activists’ opinions in opposition to the carriages.
I will not deny that these carriage horses in Asheville are taken better care of than those in other major cities; however, other activists and I are opposed to the horse-carriage industry for the following reasons: The horses live a “nose to tailpipe” life; they are constantly inhaling exhaust from the vehicles they are tailing. Exhaust inhalation can cause serious, sometimes fatal, lung issues.
Horses are also subjected to excessively hot or cold temperatures. It is legal for the horses to be out even when the heat index is below 25 or above 90 degrees. Their exhaustion is even worse when they are forced to pull thousands of pounds behind them.
Finally, and probably the most important reason, is the extreme danger to people and horses. With the combination of an unwieldy vehicle and a timid animal pulling it, it is only a matter of time before a major accident occurs. In 2013, 30 such accidents have occurred in New York City alone. These accidents have killed horses and seriously injured people. The carriages in Asheville have not yet caused an accident, but it is only a matter of time before the inevitable occurs.
After learning about the dangers and cruelty involved in the horse-carriage industry, many cities have chosen to ban it altogether, including Key West, Fla., Palm Beach, Fla., Panama City Beach, Fla., Treasure Island, Fla., Las Vegas, Reno, Nev., Santa Fe, N.M., and Camden, N.J. Asheville is an influential and progressive city, so why can’t it be the next one to ban this cruel and dangerous practice?
If this industry disturbs you, please help by refusing to support the horse-carriage industry and instead choose from the many other unique methods to tour Asheville. You can also help by contacting our City Council and asking them to ban this practice.
— Jeremy Sagaribay
Editor’s note: See “Article Failed to Report Carriage-horse Dangers” in this issue for Xpress writer Virginia Daffron’s response to the points raised in this letter.