Letter writer: Ban the cruel horse-carriage industry

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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.


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4 thoughts on “Letter writer: Ban the cruel horse-carriage industry

  1. Jeremy, I think you mean well, but unfortunately you’ve been misled. The facts are that urban carriage horses don’t live a “nose to tailpipe” existence any more than their drivers do, or police officers directing traffic. And there’s no credible evidence that urban horses experience any more respiratory ailments than horses not in the city. Further, a healthy horse doesn’t become exhausted by pulling a modern carriage on a paved surface under thoughtfully regulated conditions. In fact, it’s easier for a horse to pull a loaded carriage than carry a rider, and is the equivalent of you pushing a grocery cart. A temperature range of 25 to 90 is very reasonable for horses to be out walking in as evidenced by the fact that horses go on trail rides, perform in horse shows and work in agriculture in temperatires far outside that range, and suffer no ill effects. Properly cared for, horses do just fine in extremes of temperature. Why would the Asheville owners not take proper care of their valuable and well loved horses?

    As to extreme danger, since you mention New York City, the 30 accidents activists enjoy crowing about are actually a list of police incident reports only and include reports of items left behind in carriages, reports of vehicles illegally parked at the carriage stands, and reports of people claiming vehicle damage by carriages. Many of the reports are coded dismissed as unfounded. None of the 2013 reports even allege any serious injury to people or horses.

    Perhaps you can find a source to support your claim that the cities you list banned horse carriages because of “dangers and cruelty”. Several of the cities you list haven’t banned carriage horse rides at all, including Reno and Santa Fe. However, it’s true that a few cities have banned horse carriages on the basis of perceived quality of human life due to odor and inconvenience to traffic. The fact is horse drawn carriage provide a natural and effective traffic calming effect in the urban environment.

    Maybe it would be more effective to simply say you think it’s wrong to have working partnerships with animals. You’d be in the minority, of course, as most people respect and appreciate the bond that develops between human and non-human animals when they work together, but you’d have more credibility if you didn’t put forth a string of inaccuracies.

    • Kira

      Is an 8th grader that wrote this article. He is still learning about the world and all the accuracies and politically correct term but I love his compassion and concern as I have.

      • Stewart

        Great letter, Jeremy. Your parents must be proud to have raised such a compassionate and articulate child. Don’t let the critics get you down, there are people who just don’t care about animals, and the don’t like it when someone else does. They would rather go about their abuse without anyone calling attention to the facts and the cruelty.

        • Lafayette

          Well said Stewart, Jeremy is a extremely aware young man. Not to mention capable of quoting facts from the public records. Keep up the good work Jeremy.

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