Carriage Horse Collapses In Central Park

The horse struggled to get to his feet and then collapsed a second time.


A horse that pulls the carriages around Central Park in New York City collapsed in the middle of the street earlier this week after breathing harder than usual, according to recent reports by The Dodo. The white horse named Max reportedly stumbled on the street as the red carriage that he was pulling came to a halt, before he fell and hit the ground. Max was seen struggling to get back up onto his feet, which he eventually managed, before falling to the ground again after just a few steps, landing his body flat against the asphalt. The horses usually start their shifts pulling the carriages around Central Park each day at around 10am, but reports state that on this particular day it was obvious that Max shouldn’t be working, and that something was seriously wrong with him.

The incident emerged after a passerby took photos of the fallen horse, which then found their way to an advocacy group called NYCLASS, who campaign against the use of carriage horses in New York City. The photos quickly went viral, prompting the driver of the carriage, Chris Emanus, to give his side of the story. Emanus told Daily News New York, “He tripped. His foot got stuck on a little crack on the pavement. He went down. That happens all the time with horses. With new shoes, sometimes they’re not comfortable.” However, Jill Carnegie, a spokesperson for NYCLASS, says that she does not believe Emanus’ explanation. Carnegie told The Dodo, “What we do know based on the witness account was that this horse was breathing heavily, and then collapsed to his side, took a few moments to right himself, took a few steps, then collapsed a second time. So that does not sound like a horse who tripped.”

“What we do know based on the witness account was that this horse was breathing heavily, and then collapsed to his side, took a few moments to right himself, took a few steps, then collapsed a second time. So that does not sound like a horse who tripped.”


Unfortunately, these incidents are not uncommon in New York City, and just last September people watched as a driver screamed at a 14-year-old draft horse named Norman who collapsed from exhaustion in the middle of New York City traffic. An additional link to the story of Max is that Norman’s driver also claimed that Norman had tripped and fallen. Carnegie claims that there are many other incidents that are not reported, simply because they are not seen by onlookers who can report them, and therefore they slip quietly under the radar. Carnegie said, “So many go unreported. It is speculated that these incidents happen all the time. In fact, the driver even said in one of his news interviews that horses trip and collapse all the time. And that it’s ‘normal.’ Yet anyone who knows horses know that it’s not normal for a quadruped animal to frequently trip or collapse.”


As well as horses collapsing, Carnegie also believes that the carriage industry is generally very hard on animals. She said, “These horses are standing on … asphalt, for at least nine hours a day, inches from traffic, and they are wearing a bridle and aggressive metal bits in their mouths for a minimum of nine hours straight. That in itself would be considered by most caretakers abuse. That’s not even factoring in subjecting them to traffic, loud city traffic, the fumes from cars. Many of them [the horses] hang their heads low and just breathe in the car fumes. Many of them are eating feed that’s contaminated with pigeon feces, and many of them are eating feed off the asphalt itself, which is on the two-way traffic street, Central Park South.”


At the moment it is not clear why Max collapsed, but NYCLASS is asking for a formal investigation into the incident.  John Collins, a NYCLASS spokesperson, said in a statement. “Something happened — and the city should get to the bottom of it and make sure it never happens again. They should conduct an immediate investigation into the health and whereabouts of this horse, including allowing an independent vet to examine the animal.” The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are also calling for the end of the horse carriage industry in New York City, and urge anyone who sees a horse in distress, or anything similar, to document the situation and send everything to NYCLASS. In addition to this, Carnegie also stresses the importance of calling 911. “That 911 call then is tracked and recorded, and, if the police think it’s appropriate, they can file a report. That’s why it’s so crucial to call someone when this happens — otherwise, no one knows. And the industry is certainly not going to compromise itself by revealing what’s going on.”


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