by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals
Tags: , .

neeson_horsesLiam Neeson has taken issue with a proposed bill to ban the horse carriage business in New York City. The legislation aims to put an end to an industry considered cruel by some, including Alec Baldwin. Here’s a bit from the letter that Neeson wrote to the City Council:

“As a horse lover and rider, I am deeply disturbed by the unnecessary and misguided political and extreme rhetoric against the horse-drawn carriage industry and feel obliged to counter this action.”

“The horse-drawn carriage business is an iconic part of this city, employing hundreds of dedicated, hard-working men and women, caring for well-bred, well-trained horses and attracting tourists to New York City for over 100 years.”

“As a proud New York resident, I have personally enjoyed the beauty of Central Park on a daily basis for many years, and these horses are an undeniable integral part of that experience. The notion that a well-nourished horse pulling a carriage through Central Park is considered cruelty may fit in with animal activists’ extremist view, but not with the rest of us. Surely we have a responsibility to protect commerce, especially one with such history, and one I truly feel helps define this city. May pragmatism prevail.”

Last June, Alec Baldwin hosted an event for PETA to help raise money and awareness on the issue. “I don’t have a problem with the carriage trade,” he said. “If they remove all the cars in Manhattan, and build a farm with an acre of land for each horse to graze, I will invest my own money. Passions run high in this issue… It’s loud and vulgar because they know they are wrong.”

What do you think? Should the carriage industry continue or is today’s city life too much of a stress for these animals?

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Catherine M.

    As a native new yorker, i have always disliked the carriage rides. i have seen the “trainers” be quite cruel to those horses and many of the horses look dirty and haggard. Amazing how liam can push for this to continue. easy for him to say, he’s not the horse. those horses are out there in all kinds of weather and it’s just not humane.

  • Matt

    Liam argues in favor of money and tradition. Alec argues in favor of kindness and decency. When Liam says he loves horses, he means he loves them like some people love their cars – like objects. When Alec says he loves horses, he is talking about the individual, feeling beings – like one would love a child.

    Not a hard choice which one has his head on straigh in my opinion.

  • http://BrainyBlonde.com Erin

    So well put Matt (and Catherine!)

    What most people don’t realize either is that these horses don’t go back out to a farm after their hard day’s (or night’s!) work.

    They go to a big gray hard cold BUILDING in a tiny concrete stall!

    All Liam needs to do is watch this video to see for himself

    http://www.blindersthemovie.com/

    ANd what an arrogant idiot he is to say such a comment. Honestly I have lost all respect for him. All respect. I don’t think I’ll watch his films after that. Matt is so right. He’s only thinking of them as objects. ANY one who loves horses would not, in TODAY’S age, let them walk the streets of manhattan and live in a cold building in the Bronx when not working. What an ASS he is. I hope he sees the error in his ways.

    Erin

  • http://iceponytrekking.blogspot.com/ Raven

    The NYC horses are abused and inhumanely treated by the drivers.

    Kudos to Alex for trying to stop the abuse.

    Ice Pony Girl

  • Mags

    I think that if regulations/checks can be done or a society created where the drivers/trainers have to register (under rules of horsemanship, capability, care for the animals, equipment, working hours, living conditions etc) I see no reason why the carriage rides could not continue. It might even go so far as to prohibit anyone other than the members of the society from practicing the trade in NYC. Such a society can determine wheather conditions un~/suitable, horses that are mistreated or underfed can be recognised and action taken, and generally monitor the trade, making it possible to continue without the cruelty to the horses.

    People must also consider that although these horses are perhaps not in pristine condition and have not the ideal living conditions (nothing is better for a horse’s spirits than a long gallop in a field), there is room to change that and in a country with the resources and the people willing to do something – things can be made better for these animals; where in many countries/places (ie SA where I’m from), the amount of cruelty to animals and the neglect of doing anything about it is staggering!

    A definate vote for improving & monitoring conditions for the horses, but that might not completely destroy the trade.

    Just a thought ;)

  • JC

    Liam is lame.

  • VeggieTart

    There are ways to enjoy Central Park without an unwilling animal being forced to cart his ass around. Last time I was therea few years ago, you could get a pedicab. Okay, it’s expensive, but at least you know the being carting you around has chosen to do this.

    I wouldn’t want to have my front view be the rear end of a horse anyway.

  • http://thevegetarianblog.today.com Antonio Pasolini

    Note that the all reasons Liam gives in favour of this cruel business has to do with his own personal joy. Selfish animal bully.

  • Stephanie

    Actually, pedicabs are cheaper then carriage rides and you see MORE of the park cause the go where the horses cannot. Or at least that was the case at the last protest i went to.

    And as i say at protest, the pedicab drivers CHOOSE to do the work….horses do not.

  • http://BrainyBlonde.com Erin

    Stephanie is so right. She took the words right out of my mouth!

    In Orlando (not too far from me) Pedicabs are a big deal. People use them to actually get around the down town area instead of taxis (wow there’s an idea – no suffering horses forced to drive you around OR cars that create toxins, noise and use gas and oil!) InSTEAD you have someone ride you on a bike and they get paid to make a living (the horses don’t get paid either mind you!) and the rider gets a great workout stays in shape (hell I’d drive one of those pedi cabs just for the damn work out! In Orlando there are many young female drivers and they are in fine ass shape too!

    I think the way we treat horses and animals as slaves is no different than black slavery in America. It should be abolished.

    Are we that selfish of a species that we force other ones to work for us? pain and suffering never to run free in a field or even walk in a pasture ever again? They are OWNED by some sick sap who gets paid while the horses he “owns” are tortured?

    Erin

  • Julia

    New York City’s carriage industry is inhumane and cannot be made safer. Who says? The ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. Liam Neeson doesn’t know anything of which he speaks. There is virtually no meaningful oversight or enforcement of the already-lax regulations, a troublesome finding that was outlined in the 2007 audit by City Comptroller William Thompson. All attempts at regulations have failed miserably. The horses do not live in the park, as some people think. The horses live in multistory stables as far south as W. 37th Street — 2 miles in heavy traffic, each way. It is on these commutes that many of the accidents occur, from a horse spooking in traffic. That is what led to the gruesome death in 2006 of poor Spotty. Smoothie, however, spooked at the sound of drums in Central Park, and died just outside the park. Horse-drawn carriages don’t belong in city traffic. Ban them.

  • Sonia

    I live in Austin, Tx and I hate it when I see those poor horses in the middle of busy streets,idiots riding in the carriages with stupid smiles on their faces. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for them in a city as busy as New York. They definitely don’t deserve that kind of life. Boo for Liam! I used to like the guy.

  • http://BrainyBlonde.com Erin

    An idea. IF they didn’t ban away with it why couldn’t the horses live in Central Park? THey could have stables and an outdoor area (surely people would love to see that) and so would the horses. I swear sometimes people do not use their heads. Especially, as one describes above, most accidents happen on this very long commute to 37th st..

    I think the horses are smarter than the humans who own them sometimes (actually most of the time!)

    E

  • Carlee

    As much as I would disapprove of the way that the carriage drivers treat the horses (I do not live in the area and therefore would not know specifically how they are treated), I would much less like the idea of them being sold for meat. Case in point: http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1368334
    This could very well be their fate. I agree with Baldwin that this is cruel, but unless he is proposing to buy all of the horses and find the carriage drivers jobs (especailly in this crappy economy), then maybe, I hate to say it, Neeson is right.

  • http://www.remyc.com RemyC

    It’s nostalgia for a way long gone by of how New York used to be, trying to preserve a chunk of the past.

    My concern is what happens to these animals, if their livelyhood is removed? Do they get sent to the glue factory, or end up as pet food?

    Tourists and lovers (who don’t know any better) will miss these horse drawn carriages.

    The idea that they should be moved to trails inside the park, where traffic isn’t congested, might be a good alternative.

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  • http://www.spiritplane.com Marie Carew

    Concerning Liam Neeson’s comments;
    First of all, in this day in age there is no necessity for animals to be laborers to human beings. The horse and carriage industry is for nostalgic entertainment and commerce, nothing else. It does not serve a useful purpose in today’s society. I have been an animal activist and vegetarian for twenty six years and I can tell you Mr. Neeson’s opinions are incidental and will not rule over the out come of the carriage horses dilemma so people should not waste their time casting stones against the man. Liam is a fine actor. That is his purpose of being for the world his opinions outside of acting are his own. What we must do is concentrate not on an actors opinions, but on writing letters in support of cruelty free living conditions for New York’s Carriage horses. These horses are doing human beings a service and there for they must be respected and protected. Trained animals like to be useful and serve a purpose. To take that purpose away could depress the animal and destroy its health and well being. Also, If these horses loose their livelihood, chances are they will be euthanized the same as race horses considering it might be very difficult to place 200 work horses on retirement farms. Let’s clean up any mistreatment of these beautiful animals, fine the responsible parties for their cruelty and neglect, then make new laws like banning traffic and bicycles from horse restricted areas and cleaning up the stables as well as moving the horses to greener pastures when they are not doing the work they were trained to do. These animals need to be given a chance at life. This is an issue of common sense, humanity AND commerce. The horses benefit the cities economic status so there for they should be treated as any other working citizen. The issue here is not about good guys and bad guys. Actor Liam Neeson never stated his opinion on animal cruelty so arguing with him is futile.
    Mr. Neeson does not have the deciding vote on this issue. The issue here is horse cruelty. Something that has been alleged in the New York carriage industry for many years. The problem here is not with actor Liam Neeson, it is with the human beings who are responsible for the care and treatment of these animals. Not all of these care takers are abusing their horses. Some of them love their horses and are just doing their jobs. No human being has the right to make ANY animal serve them. Animals were not put here on this Earth for human pleasure and consumption, on the contrary, because human beings are supposed to have the higher intellect that means that they were put on the Earth to defend serve, and protect animals and all life forms that can not defend, protect and think for themselves. ALL Animal cruelty is inhumane. These horses only know the life that human beings gave to them, therefore to take that away from them could be detrimental to there well being. Once again, what needs to be done to rectify this issue is simple,

    Laws must be passed to insure the health and safety of these hard working animals, while the horses themselves are moved to a cleaner environment. One that is more fit and suitable for horses. As far as the exhaust fumes go, Human beings created them and we are all breathing them, so at least we are all being asphyxiated together. Horse and man alike. Even actor Liam Neeson stated on comedy central that giving these animals a pasture was a good point. Instead of condemning Mr. Neeson, let’s work together and use our intelligence and energy to work towards stopping the real culprits from continuing this very negative atrocity.

    It is a shame but human beings do not come with instruction books on how to be humane, therefore, they must be gently educated in the fine art of humanity. Keeping an open mind on all issues makes us see things more clearly. Mr. Neeson has been a humanitarian and vegetarian for many years. He was being playfully wise when he made the comment about living in the stable. Mr. Neeson is a doer. This is why he physically went down to the stables to see what is going on. He wanted to know first hand; where as most of us must rely on the interpretations of others to make our decisions. His comment on “cows” is true.
    He knows this because he grew up in Ireland were farm lands are predominate.
    Animals live by their instincts. I have worked beside a farm for twenty years and every time the humans leave the pasture gate open, (Which unfortunately is often) the cows in herds lumber out down the road but always on there own return to what they instinctively know. Their own environment. The environment HUMAN beings gave them. This is true with all animals. That is why it is so important for all of us to see all sides to this issue.

    Mr. Neeson is coming at this issue through his own humanitarian point of view.
    He is simply sharing his opinion with the world and we must do the same. With the world in economic crisis, Mr. Neeson I concerned that the workers and horses will loose their livelihood should the Horse and Carriage industry be banned.

    What Is An Opinion? Always remember, opinions are neither right nor wrong. All opinions are individual and no ones opinions, the rich, the poor, even the scholars, have more value on this Earth then another.

    Opinions are only “right” to the individuals who are expressing them
    as well as to the individuals who happen to share them and believe them as truth. It is time we all expressed our own truth. Never let anyone usurp your opinion unless you truly believe in the opinion they have expressed.

    “It is more intellectually challenging to act humanely, then to act upon
    your natural, carnal, negative thoughts. One act of humanity is bliss. One act of ignorance is devastating.”

    When you disagree with someone intellectually, all you can do is try
    to educate them to seeing a different point of view. If they are beyond
    reasoning, then it is a waste of your time to pursue them. A healthy
    debate is one were both parties go away challenged and fulfilled. Not
    angry and intolerant. Through using our own psychic awareness we
    can create balance in our feelings and learn to use self control to alter
    our negative thoughts. All Negative emotions are caused from human error. Before we can make a new start, we must get rid of all the negativity inside of us,
    since we cannot eliminate the negativity that surrounds us. The development of the human mind is the reason why we believe what we believe and why we act the way we act. Unfortunately when we were born, we did not get a user guide or instruction booklet with our brains. The human brain is nothing more then a computer fueled by the energy surges inside our bodies. The energy inside our bodies is our human spirit. It is what gives us our psychic awareness. The
    proper way to use your mind is to keep it open to all things. If our minds are clouded by the opinions of others, we cannot fully develop.

    Without a doubt, the human mind is the most dangerous living
    organism on the planet Earth, for it can think up the vilest, depraved and monstrous cruelties known to man. It is our duty and responsibility to care for our minds and see to it that they are not allowed to stray into those dark areas that cause us to act on our negative emotions.

    We are all made up of positive and negative energy, (the yin and the
    yang.) One cannot exist without the other.

    Negativity is the number one reason for keeping a closed mind and harboring feelings of hatred, anger, intolerance cruelty and violence.

    The key to a positive attitude is the ability to Control your thoughts.

    You can achieve this by becoming more psychically aware.

    Do not let others opinions and your own life’s circumstances, rule your emotions and behavior.

    Take control of your feelings in the here and now, before you say or do something that you will later regret.

    By using your own free will, you can turn your negative emotions into positive reactions by choosing to over ride all negativity.

    ALTER YOUR ATTITUDE and you can alter your life.

    Through the convictions of your own mind, you can choose to react positive to a negative situation. Don’t react negatively to Mr. Neeson’s opinions.

    It’s up to you to choose your emotions wisely and make certain before you speak and act that you are speaking and acting out of the emotions you CHOOSE rather then the emotions you immediately feel. Always choose emotions that will not be detrimental or bring harm to yourself and those around you. Once you convince your mind to be positive, you will start acting in positive ways.

    Always over ride Anger, Hatred, Negativity, Cruelty and Violence with Consideration, Kindness, Compassion and Helpfulness. When you can not change your life’s circumstances, remember, you CAN always change how you react to them. The only way we can stop this cruelty is by acting intelligently and writing non argumentive letters to the people in authority without casting stones and name calling. This is the message we need to send people. It dose not matter whose opinion is in the right and whose opinion is in the wrong. What matters is rectifying the cruelty with acts of humanity.

  • Joe

    I love the carriage rides. There’s nothing like the clip-clop sound as we go merrily along. And those horses are about the healthiest I’ve ever seen.

  • Cliff

    Celebrities are idiots. I ignore anything they say.

  • Chunk-e

    They’re effing horses! They are not children. Many of you treat them as if they have souls. They don’t!

    Also, how do you know that they aren’t perfectly happy doing what they do? Do you know where we would be if we didn’t use animals as laborers. How would we Americans come west had we not forced oxen to drag us there?!

    Typical one-sided thinking on your parts. How about we start thinking about humans first. We have enough problems of our own.

    • http://www.ecorazzi.com Michael d'Estries

      Chunk-e: Please explain why horses do not have souls.

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