Philly’s horse drawn carriages- Why you shouldn’t take a ride this season, or ever

With the holiday season right around the corner, and Christmas carols playing on every radio station, I started to think about Christmas traditions that are popular in our culture. A big one that came to mind is taking a ride in a horse drawn carriage. Growing up watching Cinderella, I could understand why some may think these rides are a great romantic gesture or a stylish way to tour the city. However, patrons aren’t seeing what goes on behind the scenes of these carriage companies, especially in metro areas where the barn facilities are cramped and lack the proper amount of land to pasture a horse. This is especially true for the Philadelphia Carriage Company.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) has issued several citations to the Philadelphia Carriage Co. over the past few months due to less than ideal living conditions for their horses. When not working long days and nights, the horses come home to small, dirty, wet stalls with a lack of ventilation and no sufficient turn out pasture. Unfortunately, due to recent housing expansion, the vacant lot where the horses used to graze is gone. There have also been reports of rodent and insect infestations. According to Philly.com,

The owner, Han Hee Yoo, had appealed the citations, saying that the horses are well cared for and that the inspectors misinterpreted what they saw.

The L&I board on Tuesday rejected the carriage company’s appeal of the findings. That could mean the beginning of the end for one of the city’s two remaining carriage operators.

A not so glamours view of outside of Philadelphia Carriage Co.

At this point, it seems everyone is in agreement that we need to do what is best for the animals. Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in Philly is a group that “advocates for banning horse-drawn carriages and retiring enslaved horses in Philly”. This group, along with many other animal right organizations, hope to assist in getting these animals into sanctuaries when the time is right. While the Carriage Co. is currently doing business as usual, as of June 2017, L&I has not renewed their license.  There are a lot of questions looming as to why the city is allowing Philadelphia Carriage Co. to run without a proper license. According to Philly.com,

The concern, lawyer Leonard Reuter said, was that preventing the company from doing business could put the horses at risk.

“If we cease the carriage company’s business, we have no control over how the horses are going to be kept,” he said. “We made the decision not to push forward during the pending of the [cease-operations order] because we didn’t want the animals to disappear.”

With the living conditions aside, animals do not belong with cars and trucks on our busy city streets. It is a constant safety hazard that has already injured horses and motorist in the past. One can only hope that these recent events bring an end to a very old fashioned tradition that no longer fits modern rules and regulations on how we treat our animals. If we ask a horse to work for us, especially for a monetary value, we should at the very least provide the horse with a comfortable, safe, dry stall, as well as a pasture for it to gallop, graze, and well, be a horse!

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