Save NYC Carriage Horses From Radical Animal Rights Activists


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

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Samson the NYC carriage horse proudly made an appearance with Irish carriage drivers (Stevie, Eddie, and Enda shown) in the 257th NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade this past weekend! He gave Grand Marshal Loretta Brennan Glucksman a ride with her grandson, Liam Picco up front. After Paddy the horse was in the parade in 2011, Samson is the second, but hopefully not the last carriage horse to march in the parade.

Photo Credits: Sandi Bachom & Conor McHugh
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"Loretta Brennan Glucksman will be taking a horse and carriage up Fifth Avenue as Grand Marshal of this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But not just any old carriage. And not with any old close company. Beside her will be her grandson Liam Picco. Guiding the Hansom Carriage will be Liam’s friend Stevie Hand, and pulling it will be Samson, a black Percheron.

“Samson is my favorite horse. I like going on the carriage rides through Central Park and listening to Stevie’s stories,” said Liam, who is managing epilepsy and spends time with Stevie Hand and other carriage drivers in an informal equine therapy. “I’m excited to be in the parade this year because St. Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday. It’s awesome that I get to spend the day with my Grandmom, too,” Liam, who is 15, said. “Liam got into brushing the horses. He gives them carrots,” Hand said.

As for the Brennan Glucksman’s take on her grand day out? “My children and my grandchildren are my whole world,” she said. “One of the high points of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be being so close to Liam and sharing the joy with Stevie. “He and the other Irish guys who work with the horses have been so good to Liam.”

Following in the tradition of Mary Higgins Clark, the 2011 Grand Marshal, and Maureen O’Hara, the 1998 Grand Marshal, Brennan Glucksman will lead the 257th parade on March 17 by riding in a Hansom Cab. Because of Liam’s friendship with Hand, he has the honor of driving the cab, with Liam sitting proudly at his side.

Hand, who is from from Dowth in County Meath, on the border with County Louth, first came to America on a student visa in 1986 and became a permanent resident in 1992. He started driving a hansom cab in 1994, tried his hand on Wall Street and then came back to the carriages when Wall Street went haywire in 2008. “I like the bond that connects me to people,” Hand explained. “I get a buzz when people say the carriage ride ‘is the best thing that happened on my vacation.’ To be able to share in other people’s special moments is truly a blessing.”

Two years ago, Liam’s mother, Kate Picco, brought him out for a carriage ride. “She knew someone that I knew. That’s a typical Irish thing,” Hand said, “And we all became friends.” Liam and Stevie have shared many afternoon carriage rides together in Central Park, always enjoying each other’s company. “I love having Liam as part of my life. I treat him as an equal. We’re all human and we all bring something to the table. Like all kids, he wants me to go faster. I tell him life goes fast enough. It’s all about the journey, not the destination. “Spending time with Liam has taught me the art of mindfulness. When Liam takes a carriage ride, Carpe Diem is definitely the buzz phrase. Nothing else matters for that hour apart from Liam’s interaction with his equine buddies,” Hand said.

Pulling Loretta’s carriage will be Samson, 22, “a good sturdy horse with a great disposition,” Hand said. “It is an honor to be driving Loretta, who has given so much of her time and financial gifts for the people of Ireland and for Irish Americans. Her involvement with the island of Ireland has been a continuous series of acts of selflessness,” he added. “The 32 counties of Ireland are on a much higher plateau due to her devotion to all things Irish, especially in the fields of education and bringing our two communities together in Northern Ireland,” Hand said. “On St. Patrick’s Day, we think of those who came before. What they had to do to survive. I am very thankful for those who went before, who make my life in America so easy.”

Loretta, Liam, Stevie, Samson and the 257th New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade step off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, and proceed up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street. The parade is broadcast live on WNBC-TV 4 and live-streamed on and"

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Yearly traditions continued, as the NYC carriage horse industry was welcomed into the St Pats For All parade in Queens, this past Sunday. NYC Carriage horse, Samson gave a ride to Malachy McCourt down the parade route. Samson was spotted posing with NYC Council Member & Speaker, Corey Johnson, and NYC Council Member, Jimmy Van Bramer was also seen shaking hands with NYC carriage drivers.

Photo Credit: Dana Harary
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Accidents among horse drawn carriages in NYC are such a rare occurrence, that when they do happen, they make all the papers. If car accidents were reported on the way horse carriage accidents are, we’d need a daily paper solely dedicated to them. As reporters often admit, car accidents just happen too frequently to report. Arthur, a 10 year old Percheron who formerly pulled carriages in Cleveland, had only been a NYC carriage horse for one month when he was startled by an umbrella opening and closing in Central Park, last weekend, which has yet to be proved unintentional provoking, and resulted in Arthur losing his driver, a couple of damaged parked cars, and minor injuries to his passengers. (Official statement: It would be a liability issue for Arthur to continue work in NYC. Most horses that come to work in the city enjoy it and easily adapt finding a comfortable place in the sights and sounds of the city. However, most NYC carriage horses are still purchased on a trial basis so that if they are returned they are not at risk for going to slaughter down the line, it’s known they are just not a horse cut out for the city life and they can go on to another job more suitable for them. It would simply be a struggle on the horse, driver, and passengers to keep a horse that was not comfortable in a city working in one. It would also be a punishment for a draft horse like Arthur to be sentenced to a life without work, as they are kept healthy physically and mentally through work, so he was taken to Blue Star Equiculture Draft Horse Sanctuary, where he will live the rest of his life comfortably, unless the perfect home comes along. (Article: Though, Blue Star Equiculture had been named “the official retirement home of NYC carriage horses,” many NYC carriage horses also retire to private property, and other farms/sanctuaries. Owners work hard to find good homes for their valuable retiring partners to settle into when the time comes.

NYCLASS saw Arthur’s accident as an opportunity to profit. By exploiting the incident, sending a false threat of Arthur’s slaughter out to their supporters, they believed they would gain a backing for their agenda. There is nothing in NYCLASS’s proposed bill or bill amendments yet to be introduced that would have prevented the accident or positively impact the way NYC carriage horses are currently retired. Hundreds of thousands of horses are shipped to slaughter in Mexico and Canada every year, but rather than focusing on the horses in need of help, NYCLASS drew attention to a horse who’d already been given a proper retirement from NYC. While Arthur was on the trailer to Blue Star Equiculture, in MA, NYCLASS director Edita Birnkrant rallied with others near the hackline in NYC, waving posters and chanting, pleading that Arthur not be sent to slaughter. This was never an option that had been on the table. It was truly a waste of energy, time, and money, as well as a distraction from all the horses who could use that attention. It holds no benefit practically, financially, logically, or emotionally for a horse carriage driver to send a horse to slaughter. It’s costly to purchase a horse who’s been trained to be driven, have them trailered, examined, shod, vaccinated and licensed to work in NYC. It takes time, energy, and money to train a horse to work in the city after they arrive. An emotional bond and partnership develops when working with a horse. Why would anyone be quick to send such a valuable horse to slaughter? It turns out, even the director of NYCLASS, Edita Birnkrant couldn’t come up with the answer when questioned on this, and her response as to why they were even holding their rally seemed to unravel the entire event. Edita said there were sanctuaries aligned with NYCLASS and PETA, willing to take Arthur in, though no horse person would ever want to sentence a healthy, young draft horse into the hands of people inexperienced with horses for a life without work. Not to mention not a single offer NYCLASS received for Arthur has shown any interest in the thousands of horses that are currently homeless, with the threat of slaughter after being sold at auctions very possible in their futures. The following conversation was transcribed from a live video taken by NYCLASS supporter, Jane Velez-Mitchell at their rally. Jane also admits in the comments on the video that Arthur is being used for this publicity stunt. “Arthur is a symbol...People relate to a story, not a statistic,” she states...

Reporter: “Is he waiting for payment, is that what’s holding him up?” (Why Arthur’s owner is not sending him to one of the “sanctuaries” NYCLASS has suggested.)
NYCLASS Executive Director, Edita Birnkrant: “Um, he has not, no, he’s, it’s not about payment, he’s not, we haven’t had any offer, we’re not offering payment, I think we are offering a lifelong care, which of course is very expensive for a horse.” (It may be the first time she’s hinted at admitting the importance of a horse that brings in their own income.)
Reporter: “What would be the reason for him holding onto the horse and giving it back to the owner?” (That's what would typically go on, as the horses are purchased on a trial basis.)
NYCLASS Executive Director, Edita Birnkrant: “Um I couldn’t, I don’t know what the reason is, *laughs* I um, uh”
Reporter: “Do they make money when they send the horses to slaughter?”
NYCLASS Executive Director, Edita Birnkrant: “I, uh, unfortunately, sometimes they, this is a for profit business, the carriage industry, so, it, it is about the money.” (A horse with training is far more valuable being sold to work rather than for meat.)
Reporter: “I’m just trying to find out the motivation for not letting him do the compassionate thing.”
NYCLASS Executive Director, Edita Birnkrant: “Yeah, I think, well, what we know is, um, the spokesperson for the carriage industry said in the Wall Street Journal article that Arthur was going back to his previous owners…” (Which admits NYCLASS was aware that Arthur was never slaughter-bound, since the original plan, contrary to what they’d led their supporters to believe, just like all the other false and misleading statements they’ve shared with their followers about the NYC carriage horse industry.)

Photo Credit: "Arthur" by Blue Star Equiculture –Please consider becoming a “herd member” to support working horses starting at as little as $10 per month or make a one-time donation at to help with the costly care of all their wonderful horses.
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2/9/18: "Five days after an unfurling umbrella spooked him into bolting across Central Park West with a buggy full of terrified Texans, Arthur the skittish carriage horse has “retired” to the country — where he’s still kicking up a cloud of controversy. Arthur, 10, has now become the poster horse for both the carriage industry, which points to him as a shining example of humane treatment, and animal rights activists, who fear he will be turned into glue, or eaten.

“RALLY TO SAVE ARTHUR FROM SLAUGHTER” a group of vegans and animal rights activists posted on Facebook in advance of a Thursday protest at Central Park’s southeast corner. But at the very same time that activists for PETA, the anti-carriage group NYCLASS and other organizations gathered for the afternoon “emergency” rally, Arthur was on the move to his new home.

Horse advocates had been turning up, uninvited, and some with their own trailers, for half a week at the 38th Street carriage horse stables, hoping to “rescue” Arthur, said industry spokeswoman Christina Hansen. But with the activists otherwise occupied, volunteers from Blue Star Equiculture farm took the opportunity to whisk the massive white Percheron gelding out of the stables and into a trailer bound for its Palmer, Massachusetts, carriage horse sanctuary. “He needs a break,” says Blue Star’s executive director, Pamela Rickenbach. Making the trip with him to Blue Star was fellow NYC retiree Prince, another white Percheron some 10 years his senior. “They’re like inseparable,” Rickenbach said Friday, the two retirees’ first full day in their new home. The older Prince has been following youngster Arthur around all day, she said. “I think Prince is deferring to him,” she said.

“It’s really cute. “Prince is now Arthur’s new best bud,” agrees Colm McKeever, Arthur’s former owner and driver. McKeever, 47, has owned and driven carriage horses in the city since he was 17, but in the month he owned Arthur, the giant “big boy” stole his heart, he said. “Beautiful, beautiful animal,” he said. “He would lift his head up and kiss you on the side of the face to ask for a carrot.” McKeever bought Arthur in early January for $4,000 from an Amish farmer; the horse’s previous career was pulling tourist carriages in Cleveland, Ohio, he said, “so he was already a city slicker.” Arthur became startled and bolted on Sunday after a man in the park began opening and closing an umbrella to shake the rain off it, McKeever said. He was tossed clear out of the carriage, winding up on the pavement with an assortment of bruises. “We’re all alright, thanks be to God,” McKeever said of himself, Arthur, and a trio of female tourists from Texas.

McKeever has donated Arthur for free to Blue Star, where, according to Rickenbach and Hansen, he’ll live out his life relaxing and doing recreational pulling for visitors. He’ll only be adopted out if the perfect home comes along, Hansen said. “He is not going to be slaughtered. He will not be eaten,” she said, sounding exasperated. “He will not be turned into glue.”

But Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS, says her group fears Arthur could still be put back to work pulling tourists through cities, or even slaughtered. “After what he’s been through, he deserves a life of rest and care,” she said. The group and others are still hoping that Arthur can live out his life in a sanctuary that they themselves have approved, including Crawford Farms in Syracuse or Tamerlaine Sanctuary in Montague, NJ. Many private horse lovers have also come forward to adopt Arthur, she said, including comedian Whitney Cummings, who starred in the NBC sitcom “Whitney” and was co-creator of the CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls.” “Arthur deserves a permanent place to live where he’ll be safe and cared for, and where there’s no chance he’ll be sold back into the carriage industry or to a slaughterhouse,” she said in a statement Friday. “I would love to provide him with this kind of home.”

But while the pro- and anti-carriage contingents continue battling over whether horses should be working the city’s streets to begin with, both sides agree on one thing: Arthur’s days as a city carriage horse are rightly over. “That’s just an obvious liability issue,” Hansen said."

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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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