Could this be the final nail in the Carriage Horse coffin? One of the beleaguered beasts apparently became spooked during this morning's commute, knocking his adjoining carriage into traffic on 8th Avenue between 57th and 58th streets.
Melissa Ripke told us she was on the way to her internship at the Hearst Tower around 10:15 a.m. when she heard a loud noise. She turned and saw the tipped-over carriage, with emergency responders crowding the scene and an understandably shaken horse standing nearby. Passersby remarked that the horse looked young, perhaps not yet sufficiently nerve-deadened to withstand the Manhattan din. "I think he got spooked or something, and kind of went crazy," she said.
An FDNY spokesperson said the department arrived at the scene at 10:17 a.m., but that there were no apparent injuries.
Allie Feldman, the executive director of NYCLASS, an advocacy group committed to ending the carriage horse industry, told us that this is the 19th carriage accident in the past two and a half years. She'd heard from various sources that this morning's incident was possibly the result of the horse getting hit by a car, or that it had broken free from its reins—she clarified that it would take some time to piece together the specifics of what happened.
One thing she knows for certain, however, is that the industry has to end.
"Horses don't belong in an urban setting when they're at risk of being hit by cars, trucks and buses," she said, adding that sending a 1,200 pound animal down crowded city streets is "an accident waiting to happen."
"There's no way to test how a horse is going to react to oncoming traffic— there no horse traffic lane in New York City. There are no airbags," she said.
"Is that really the kind of risk we want to put horses and residents in?"