By American Farriers Journal Staff
Pictured Above: Lancaster County, Pa., farrier Aaron Hoover finishes shoeing Vasco, a New York City carriage horse. Hoover shoes about 40% of the city's 220 carriage horses.
A new bill aims to reduce the number of horses from 220 to 75 and move them from their Hell’s Kitchen stables. The city reportedly has agreed to pay for the new stables to be built in Central Park. Negotiations have taken place over the past few days between representatives of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Teamsters Joint Council 16, the carriage drivers’ union, the Daily News reports.
A City Council Transportation Committee meeting is scheduled for Friday and de Blasio is pushing for the bill to be completed by then. If the bill is introduced at that time, a vote could go before the Council on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The Teamsters reportedly want buyouts for those drivers who will lose their jobs under the bill. No agreement has been reached on that issue.
“We continue to have productive discussions to reach an equitable outcome for all parties involved,” according to a joint statement issued by de Blasio’s office, New York City Council and the Teamsters. “We have not yet reached an agreement.”
When campaigning for office in 2013, de Blasio vowed to “quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City. They’re not humane. They’re not appropriate to the year 2014. It’s over. So just watch us do it now.”
De Blasio’s campaign was backed by New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets, which claim the horses are abused and imprisoned within “tiny stalls.”
A number of equine veterinarians and organizations including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Veterinary Society, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, Dr. Sarah Ralston and International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame members Dr. Harry Werner and Dr. Stephen O’Grady all dispute the claims of abuse and poor living conditions.
“I went to every stall,” O’Grady told American Farriers Journal. “They can get up. They can lie down. They can turn around. In other words, it’s not inappropriate for these style horses.”
Lancaster County, Pa., farrier Aaron Hoover, who shoes about 40% of all the carriage horses scoffs at the notion that the animals are abused.
“I think the horses get treated better than I do,” he says. “There’s a law that every horse gets 5 weeks of vacation. They’re not allowed to work when the temperature is above 89 degrees or below 19 degrees. I’m lucky if I get 1 week of vacation a year.”