Carriage Horse's Rush-Hour Bolt Renews Safety Debate

A carriage horse has been taken out of service after it gave two tourists a wild ride Thursday.

17 August 2012

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A carriage horse has been taken out of service after it gave two tourists a wild ride Thursday.

The 6-year-old horse named Oreo got spooked and took off during the evening rush hour.

The driver was tossed from the carriage as the horse ran toward 60th Street before hitting a parked car near Columbus Circle.

"It sounded like a car crash and I turned around and all I saw was a horse going wild with carriage attached to it and 2 people were sitting on the carriage," said one witness.

Oreo rests inside his Hell's Kitchen stable a day after bolting near Columbus Circle.

"The hit was very hard. He destroyed that part of the car and the horse seemed to be very afraid, he ran away very fast," said another witness.

One of the passengers was taken to the hospital with a minor injury.

The carriage driver suffered a leg injury.

The horse, which had minor scrapes and bruises, was evaluated by the ASPCA.

He remains inside his Hell's Kitchen stable.

The group New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable and Safe Streets says it's the 13th accident involving carriage horses this year.

They say it's just another example of why City Council legislation should be passed to ban horse-drawn carriages from operating on the streets.

"Over the last month momentum for this bill has been growing virtually everyday. We gained almost eight supporters in the last month alone and gained 15 co-sponsors," said Carriage Bill Supporter Scott Levinson.

The Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, however, says the group is being "opportunistic" and maintains their industry is safe.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not brought a bill to the floor and Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it clear on his Friday morning radio show that even with a number of other accidents in recent years, banning carriage rides is one horse, so to speak, that he won't saddle up.

"As long as they're treated well, it's something tourists love. We're not banning automobiles every time we have an accident," Bloomberg said.

While many tourists say they will still ride, others are thinking twice about it.

"I saw it on the news and of course you think, 'Would I personally take this kind of horse ride?'" said one tourist.

"It's a part of New York City, I've taken these horses, in Central Park," noted another tourist.

The Horse and Carriage Association says the horses only work nine hour shifts with 15 minute breaks every two hours.

Their critics, however, say Oreo's still unexplained bolting proves their point that horses need room to run.


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