Have you ever seen a horse trotting down a busy street pulling a heavy carriage full of tourists? Maybe you thought nothing of it, but what you probably didn’t know is that every year, the list of accidents involving horse-drawn carriages grows and grows.

Forcing horses to pull oversize loads is cruel. Horses used to pull carriages work in all weather conditions and in all kinds of traffic, pounding the pavement all day long.


These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. In some cases, horses have even dropped dead from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity.


This is Jerry. While pulling a carriage full of tourists, he apparently succumbed to the 98-degree heat and collapsed. After a public outcry, the carriage company released a photo of a healthy horse and stated that Jerry was once again standing on his own and on the road to recovery—only to admit later that the photo was of a different horse. After changing its story several times, the company finally admitted that Jerry had died.

Horses are extremely sensitive to loud noises and unexpected sounds—and busy city streets have plenty of both. Horses and people have been seriously hurt—some injuries have even resulted in death—when horses have become spooked and run through the streets. For example, in Dallas on December 28, 2014, two passengers were injured when they were tossed out of a carriage after the horse pulling it was spooked by a car horn. The horse was also injured, and the carriage was seriously damaged.


There have also been countless incidents in which carriages have been hit by cars. Accidents have occurred in nearly every city in which carriage rides are allowed. In Chicago on July 14, 2014, at least five people, including four children, were injured when an SUV rear-ended a horse-drawn carriage operated by Chicago Horse & Carriage. The driver was thrown from the carriage.


Horses are given NO federal protection under the Animal Welfare Act, so the responsibility of looking out for horses’ welfare falls to local animal control officials. But state and local anti-cruelty laws provide horses with few safeguards, and many humane authorities just don’t have the resources or the time to monitor horse-drawn carriages in order to ensure that horses are not being overworked and that operators are following regulations.


When horses grow too old, tired, or ill to continue pulling heavy loads, they aren’t retired to green pastures and loving homes, as many people are led to believe. It would be very expensive to maintain a permanent sanctuary for the number of horses who break down in this industry. Instead, many worn-out horses are slaughtered and turned into food for dogs or for carnivores in zoos, or they’re shipped overseas for human consumption.

What You Can Do

Horses deserve better! Never ride in a horse-drawn carriage! Many cities—including Biloxi, Mississippi; Camden, New Jersey; and Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Key West, and Treasure Island, Florida—have already banned horse-drawn carriages. Please spread the word by sharing this blog post, and help END this abusive industry!