The Headless Horse Ban


Bill de Blasio started his mayorship with a promise to ban horse drawn carriages “immediately,” vowing that he’d end the Central Park tradition his first week in office.

At a pre-inauguration press conference, he promised, “We are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriges no longer a part of the landscape in New York City. They are not humane… it’s over.”

But four months later, that promise is falling apart. The carriage industry has launched an intense public relations campaign against the ban, one that seems to be working. The New York Times, the Daily News and the Post have all come out against the ban, and a recent poll showed weakening public support for the idea. A number of City Council members no longer seem sure they’ll vote for the ban, even one who sponsored a similar ban bill last session.

As the fight drags on, it’s getting nastier and weirder. Animal rights group NYCLASS, the main organization behind the ban, has thrown all of their time and money into an unrealistic, wildly expensive plan to replace the carriages with electric-powered vintage replica cars, an idea that virtually no one else supports.

On the other side, the carriage industry is getting support from an increasingly odd group of people, including Liam Neeson and a shadowy, Missouri-based lobbying group who advocate for the rights of animal owners to do whatever they want with their animals, and thinks it should be legal in the U.S. to slaughter horses for food.

Read the full story in this week’s Village Voice.