Manhattan's carriage horse industry has corralled additional support from a host of organizations — and the equine expert who served as the model for “The Horse Whisperer.”
Horse trainer Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in the 1998 flick, praised the industry in one of his best-known books. “The Central Park horses are content,” he wrote in “The Faraway Horses,” published in 2003.
Brannaman, a Wyoming resident, saddled up to defend the city’s carriage horse drivers, as did two groups that advocate for the welfare of horses — the American Horse Council and the New York State Horse Council — and the American Driving Society, a group dedicated to horse-drawn modes of transportation.
Animal rights groups, led by NYCLASS, are waging war to get the 156-year-old Central Park tradition banned. The groups opposing horse-drawn carriages say the industry is abusive because it forces the majestic, 1,200-pound creatures to pull hansom cabs in busy city traffic, NYCLASS claims.
But that’s simply not true, according to the horse welfare experts who lined up this week to show their support.
Brannaman, who could not be reached for comment, argued in his book: “Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails.” He added, “Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passersby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.”