Save NYC Carriage Horses From Radical Animal Rights Activists

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Save NYC Carriage Horses From Radical Animal Rights Activists is a project of carriage horse supporter Jill Adamski.

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“At least the passerby who make negative comments about carriage horses do so because they care about them.” No, they don’t. Their views are too misguided to be construed as caring about horses. They care about how it makes themselves feel to make those comments, on a self-righteous trip. People who care about animals actually work with them, rather than make empty statements about them or fantasize about utopian lifestyles for them. They are people working in zoos, on farms, driving carriages, veterinarians, marine biologists, and so on. They actually spend much of their time, money, and energy with animals directly impacting their lives. They sometimes struggle to find free time away from animals to educate lawmakers about them, while those with minimal contact with animals, and nearly all the time in the world reach them with ease. In our modern age, especially in urban environments, many people are becoming too detached from animals like horses to comprehend even simple things about them. We’re not even seeing carriage horses in movies and on TV as much as we used to, setting the norm, which is a problem, because it perpetuates the idea that driving a horse is somehow controversial. Some people will equate what "work" is in our eyes to what "work" is to a draft horse. If this trend of detachment continues, we will push horses out of existence. Without a true understanding of equine needs and desires it’s impossible to be of help and fulfill them. Most seem to have a general understanding of domesticated cats and dogs, but when it comes to the domesticated horse, they really don’t have enough exposure to them to understand their needs, desires, behaviors, and body language. They often incorrectly assume horses are much like cats, dogs, and humans. They don’t have enough interest in them to seek out an education on the proper care of a horse, but it’s easy for them to voice their opinion based on their limited information of them, be heard, and gain followers. With all the positive social media has allowed for, it also gives any voice, even cruel and incorrect, a platform. They love to say that they are a voice for horses, but horses have never had trouble communicating with those who understand them. Are we really going to continue to allow people with little knowledge of a creature push out laws that dictate how their lives will be lived?

Perhaps New York City is one place in which many people have “everything” and they begin searching for easy causes to make themselves feel like they have done good, without putting any real effort in. Sadly, it’s become trendy to misuse the term “animal abuse” and belittle “animal cruelty” by calling it on things one doesn’t understand. Those terms have dictionary definitions and aren't viewpoints or varying opinions up for debate. While to most equestrians, their words sound ignorant, they truly believe they’re doing the “cool” thing by insulting those who have devoted their lives to working with an animal. It makes themselves feel good, but do their words and protest actually benefit the very animals they claim to care about? One animal rights organization took a stand against NYC carriage horses because they claimed some of the horses had “have stumbled and fallen due to uneven surfaces or potholes.” A logical, sensible response to that problem would be to push the city to fill potholes on the roads carriage horses come down. (Over the last few months they actually have repaved quite a few of the main roads carriage horses come down including 59th Street where their hacklines are located.) However, their requests to get carriage horses entirely off of the streets of NYC to be sent to other areas where even ground and the prevention of horses stumbling is certainly not guaranteed, are not sensible responses, because the horse’s best interests were never in mind. Animal welfare supporters have the best interests of animals in mind. Animal rights supporters have their own best interests in mind. It’s less about what may actually be the best care for animals, and more about what type of living conditions for animals make themselves feel best. Those who make negative comments about carriage horses they glance at walking by, don’t actually care about those horses. They care about what the lives of those horses make themselves feel like. I know this because when they are informed of the care of these horses, they don’t feel any better. When someone feels bad that my horse has his hind leg cocked, something completely normal, that every relaxed horse on the planet does from time to time while resting, and I explain that he isn’t in pain, too tired to put weight on it, and that it’s a normal behavior of a calm horse, they often respond with anger and denial of these facts. A person with the best interests of a horse in mind would be thrilled to hear that the horse was actually perfectly comfortable, but that is not the case with the majority of people making these comments. They dehumanize carriage drivers so that they can convince themselves they aren't a worthy or trustworthy source of information, though they're the ones who spend the most time with their horses. For some that project their own lives onto animals, believing in animal rights over animal welfare becomes their obsession and only identity, making open-mindedness a threat. They are afraid of having their latest “cause” taken away from them.

It’s distressing that horses are this misunderstood and many which are actually in need across the country will never receive help because the average self-proclaimed urban animal advocate is just too out of touch with them. It would take what they feel is too much work on their part to actually make a difference in a horse’s life, and the few horses they pass on their daily commute are so much easier to rag on. Animal abuse is then belittled when a starving horse is equated to a well cared for carriage horse because it’s labeled “animal cruelty.” Five years ago I was a complete outsider to the carriage horse industry and I started this page as nothing more than an outside supporter, but through inspiration after all I’ve learned about the industry, I now run this page as a carriage driver myself. I can’t always respond to every uninformed remark, but I hear them, “The horse looks sad” (when it’s simply the calm, relaxed posture of a horse with their ears tilted back), “The horse looks tired” (when all horses lower their heads and cock their hind legs when they are comfortable), “The horse is cold” (when the horse has a blanket over their natural winter coat and doesn’t even work below 19 degrees Fahrenheit), “The horse is thirsty” (when the horse had a drink 10 minutes earlier), “The horse should be free” (when Mother Nature can be quite cruel to a domesticated animal), “The horse is overworked” (when he’s been out for 20 minutes), “That’s horse abuse” (when I tap my horse with the lines), “The horse needs to run on grass” (when they do get time on pastures and there isn’t even grass in the winter), and so on, but the amount of equine ignorance among the average passerby has been somewhat alarming. I’ve been called “an animal abusing monster” which I will never question being false, as I sit here typing this with my purring cat on my lap (it’s his birthday, by the way) but I do find a lot of the comments I hear when I’m with my carriage horse upsetting. It’s not because they cause me any doubt in what I now do for a living, but because these people may always have this incorrect image of something rather beautiful in reality. I may never be able to change their perception, or redirect their energy to animals that need help. Horses develop a true bond with their driver and with their work based on trust, it becomes a real partnership. Horses show pride in their work and deserve to be praised rather than pitied. I think when people make these kinds of uneducated statements, it’s just sad.

Photo Credit: Tyson the horse at The Plaza by Christina Hansen Via www.instagram.com/nyccarriages/
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Check out this virtual tour of the largest NYC carriage horse stable and interview with a horse carriage driver filmed today!.... ... See MoreSee Less

It’s freezing today, -9 degrees Celsius / 15 degrees Fahrenheit ❄️, so it’s too cold for carriage horses to work in Central Park. So today we are visiting the horses on their day off at Clint...

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While there are arguments in the horse world for and against blanketing horses, in NYC carriage horses are blanketed when it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit and they’re on the hackline, per their regulations. When it’s raining/snowing their regulations call for them to be given a rain blanket at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the horse owner’s preference if they keep a blanket on their horse at any other time because every horse is different, just like every person is different. Some horses may get cold more easily or not grow in a very thick winter coat. Some horses may work up a sweat if they work while wearing a blanket, which would make them cold. Please don’t harass a carriage driver who doesn’t have a blanket on their horse. Sometimes it might take them a couple of minutes to blanket their horse if they are retrieving the blanket from the storage areas of the carriage, trying to get their horse in a safe parking spot, or putting a bucket of oats down for them. This is normal, and the same way you would be okay without your coat for a couple of minutes, the horse is okay too! Remember, they are already wearing a natural coat that grows in thick to keep them warm in the winter. There are plenty of horses on pastures all over the world in much colder temperatures that are never given a blanket, or promptly remove blankets put on them and do just fine. In Vermont, horses are currently healthy and happy pulling sleds below zero right now! Work helps keep horses warm the same way you’re warmer when you take a walk/jog or exercise.

Carriage drivers have no regulations as to when they are to put on their winter gear, but most wear ski suit type clothing designed for temperatures twenty to sixty degrees below zero over their layers. In NYC carriage horses are not outside all day. They can only work a maximum of 9 hours per 24 hour period (which includes resting, eating, traveling to/from the stables/park.) Most only do about 7 hours because few people take 2am carriage rides on the night shift, and the day shift needs to leave enough time for the night shift to be worth working. The horses are also not worked when temperatures drop below 19 degrees Fahrenheit. The NYPD Mounted Unit takes the temperature with a specific thermometer at a specific height in Central Park to determine if it’s time to call for a suspension. When a suspension goes in effect, a text is sent to every carriage driver by the NYPD Mounted Unit and NY Health Dept (who has equine veterinarians) alerting them that they have thirty minutes to finish a ride they are on, rest their horse if necessary and return to the stables. During this period you may still see horses out for a short time while it’s 18 degrees, which is perfectly normal. Drivers receive another text when the suspension is lifted. NYC has received some pretty chilly weather forecasts for the next few days, so the horses will be in their comfy, warm stables with 24/7 stablemen, while drivers enjoy their New Years finishing up the industry’s busy season. Happy New Year!

Photo Credit: 1st Photo- Jill A, Other Photos- Christina Hansen Via www.instagram.com/nyccarriages/
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NYCLASS wants you to believe they have been deterring people from taking carriage rides at their recent less-than-20-head-count protests against the NYC carriage horse industry. These pictures were taken over a couple of different days this December, the busiest time of year for the carriage industry. The hacklines were empty because all of the carriages were in the middle of rides in Central Park. The wait for a 20 minute ride was up to an hour long at the various hacklines. Drivers pulled up to crowds of people awaiting rides after they finished a ride. The bottom two images were taken during one of NYCLASS’s protests. Of course the public can see through the false and misleading information NYCLASS has spread against the industry. Tourists and New Yorkers continue to enjoy this iconic part of our city. They know what great care the carriage horses of NYC receive, operating under a strict set of regulations. No, despite NYCLASS’s claims on social media, they have not been successful in impacting the popular industry, which still thrives every holiday season. Happy Holidays!

Photo Credits: Jill A., Craig S., Christina Hansen
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12/27/17: "While Steve Nislick, a real estate executive and leader of the movement to outlaw horse carriages in New York City, was seeking to stoke Mayor Bill de Blasio’s interest in the ban, he also was pitching the mayor on a plan to bring affordable housing to the neighborhood where Manhattan’s biggest horse carriage stable is located. That bit of intrigue was revealed in emails City Hall released on Tuesday as part of a 1,516-page response to a Freedom of Information Law request POLITICO filed in September 2015.

Horse carriage defenders have long maintained that Nislick was more interested in freeing up the real estate now occupied by stables than he was in the horses themselves. The email released Tuesday does not substantiate those assertions. But it does indicate that de Blasio and Nislick were talking about horse carriages and real estate in the same breath.

Nislick was a major donor to de Blasio's now-defunct nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, and helped underwrite an advertising campaign aimed at de Blasio's rival, Christine Quinn, during the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary.

As a candidate, de Blasio vowed to ban horse-drawn carriages as soon as he took office. He did not. Nislick, co-founder of the anti-carriage group New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets still was trying to get the mayor to follow through on that commitment more than a year into de Blasio's term. The mayor and Nislick scheduled a phone call in late February 2015, according to the emails.

In an email dated Feb. 26, 2015 entitled “Nislick call,” mayoral aide Jon Paul Lupo updated other mayoral aides (including de Blasio Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe) about the contents of what was apparently a prep call with Nislick earlier that week. Under the header, “Horse Carriages,” Lupo wrote that “CH” (apparently a reference to City Hall) and NYCLASS would continue to lobby “persuadable” City Council members to back a horse carriage bill and take steps to prevent further “suspicious” horse deaths. The next paragraph was about “Affordable Housing.”

According to the email, Nislick had an idea about how to build affordable housing in midtown Manhattan. In coordination with the executive director of the advocacy group New York Communities for Change, Jonathan Westin, Nislick "believes he has developers interested in 50/50 model for land between 43rd and 56th street in Manhattan," Lupo wrote, meaning 50 percent affordable housing, 50 percent market rate.

Clinton Park Stables, Manhattan’s biggest stable, is on 52nd Street. There is also a stable on 48th Street. “MBDB,” (or, Mayor Bill de Blasio, it would seem) “should ask Nislick to send any developer who has land and an interest in a rezoning with 50% affordable” to de Blasio’s economic development aide. The email suggests that Nislick was, at the least, seeking to curry favor with de Blasio by helping to advance the mayor’s affordable housing agenda while also encouraging de Blasio to act on his promise to ban horse carriages. At the time, de Blasio said he wanted to preserve and build 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024.

Christina Hansen, a spokesperson for the horse carriage industry, said the email "demonstrates ... what we knew all along — Steve Nislick and NYCLASS are blatantly transactional." She said Nislick was "offering the mayor something we know he wants — affordable housing — in exchange for him having serious access to the mayor's office and all of his people."

A spokesman for de Blasio said it’s not unusual for people who have business with the city to pursue their business on two separate tracks. “It obviously wasn’t the motivation,” said spokesman Eric Phillips, referring to the potential for affordable housing. “It’s just more evidence of our efforts to turn over every rock and evaluate every option in the search for affordable housing. That’s our job.”

Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Nislick, said much the same thing. “Steve Nislick's idea for 50-50 affordable housing zoning in parts of New York, as opposed to the usual 80-20, was entirely separate from the horse carriage issue,” he said. “It also had nothing at all to do with the stables.”

Westin said he and New York Communities for Change, which describes itself as a "multi-racial membership based organization of working families fighting against economic and racial oppression," had long had a relationship with Nislick. But, he said, he and Nislick didn’t discuss specific sites for affordable housing, and he, Westin, never talked with City Hall officials about 50/50 housing.

New York Communities for Change remained neutral on the issue of the horse carriages — while Westin was personally sympathetic to the idea of keeping horses off city streets, labor’s opposition to the ban made it impossible for the group to take a position.

Nislick has conceded that some critics are skeptical of his anti-horse carriage advocacy. “Listen, I think people have a difficult time believing someone like myself would do this for the purpose that I did it,” Nislick told POLITICO in 2014, in his first interview after de Blasio became mayor. “They’re just like, I’m a real estate guy, I’m a business guy in a city that’s driven by money, and so, suspect.”

De Blasio eventually proposed a deal to restrict the carriages, reducing the number of carriages in total and forcing both the horses and their stables to exist entirely within Central Park, with the city agreeing to pay $25 million in order to renovate an old building in the park’s confines to house the horses. That deal was panned by parks groups and labor unions, and collapsed, in spectacular fashion, in February of 2016."

Article: www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/12/27/as-real-estate-exec-sought-carriage-b...
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Christina Hansen is a New York City carriage driver and a spokesperson for the carriage industry. She is a proud member of Teamsters Local 553.

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