Skip to main content

Keep New York's beloved carriage rides

By Stephen Malone
updated 12:18 PM EST, Thu January 23, 2014
A horse pulls a carriage down a snow-dusted street in Central Park early in January. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio thinks the horse-drawn carriages should be banned and replaced with antique-style electric cars. A horse pulls a carriage down a snow-dusted street in Central Park early in January. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio thinks the horse-drawn carriages should be banned and replaced with antique-style electric cars.
HIDE CAPTION
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Hansom cab horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Horse power in New York
Clip, clop. Slow, winding days for New York's horse drawn carriages
Horse power in New York
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stephen Malone's carriage business goes back to his dad, who came from Ireland
  • He says carriage rides are iconic New York; tourists come from all over to enjoy a ride
  • Malone: Horses are treated very well; stables are open to inspection 365 days a year
  • Malone: It is a thriving, well-regulated industry that can't be replaced with antique cars

Editor's note: Stephen Malone has been a horse-drawn carriage operator for 26 years. He and his carriage led the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2011 and appeared in the movies "Eloise at the Plaza," "Eloise at Christmastime"
and "Crazy Eyes," among others. He is spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York.

(CNN) -- Before he came to this country in summer 1964, my father never could have envisioned the tradition he would create in America. He came here from Louth Village, County Louth, in the midlands of Ireland to follow my mother, who had come here on a job search.

My father stumbled upon the horse and carriages on Central Park South and hit the jackpot. He was a third-generation blacksmith and went to work immediately as the stable hand and blacksmith to the carriage trade. He would work all day, fixing problems with the carriages and then shoeing horses.

The stable owner allowed him to drive a carriage on weekends to earn extra pay. He worked like this until 1967, when he purchased his first carriage. This is the origin of my family tradition. The horse and carriages have put the bread and butter on my family's table since 1967 and I intend on keeping it that way for years to come.

Stephen Malone
Stephen Malone

The iconic carriage industry is a big part of what makes New York special. We are a gateway to enjoying the city, providing a slow-paced tour of Central Park, the greatest park in the world. We carry visitors from all over, providing them with a memory that lasts a lifetime. In my 26 years driving a carriage, I have participated in hundreds and hundreds of engagements, weddings, anniversaries, proms, birthdays, movies, TV commercials and sitcoms -- and provide a special moment for all my regular customers.

I am the proud owner of two draft horses -- Tyson, an 11-year-old Morgan and Percheron cross, and Jokinson, a 7-year-old Percheron mare. Tyson is my "lead" horse, which means he is my best horse. Draft horses such as mine and the others used in the carriage trade have been born and bred, for centuries, to pull loads.

Opposite view: Ban New York's horse-drawn carriage rides

On average, my horses work alternate days, so they generally work three to four days a week. I have owned many horses in my 26 years in the business and have never been involved in an accident nor have any of my horses been seriously injured.

The horses that pull the carriages are treated exceedingly well. The stables themselves are open to inspection 365 days a year. The Department of Health inspects them four times a year, and the New York Fire Department conducts an inspection at least once a year. Every horse gets checkups from a licensed New York state veterinarian and a minimum of five weeks out of the city to pasture. If a horse goes across state lines he must be seen by a vet before leaving and before returning. Our industry wants transparency when it comes to our horse care. We welcome it.

We carry visitors from all over, providing them with a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Stephen Malone

In 2010, the Carriage Operators of North America invited Harry Werner, an equine veterinarian and former head of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, to check out the horses' working and living environments in New York. He says he and other veterinarians paid their own way and found clean stalls, excellent veterinary care and food, and no inhumane conditions or neglect. He told The New York Times recently that the "demeanor of the horses was, to a one, that of a contented horse."

There are 68 licensed carriages, 220 licensed horses and about 300 licensed drivers, of which 160 are employed. The carriage industry has 144 pages of regulations that cover everything from where we can operate to how much insurance we should carry. The industry is monitored by five agencies: the ASPCA, Health Department, Mounted Police division of the NYPD, Department of Consumer Affairs and the Parks Department.

On January 1, the new mayor of New York was sworn in to office determined to end my beloved industry, one that is also loved by New Yorkers and people all over the world. Mayor Bill de Blasio believes there is no place in New York City for horse drawn carriages and wants to replace them with antique-style cars. He says the business is inhumane, but has flat-out refused to see how the horses are treated or meet with the men and women who work with them.

Members of Teamsters Local 553 union have extended an open invitation to him and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to visit and see for themselves how the industry works, and to this date they have declined.

There are horse and carriage rides available in many U.S. cities: Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Boston and Charleston, South Carolina, are just a few. Horse people around the world are watching to see what happens here in the next few months. Banning the practice in New York could set a precedent that would put hundreds of people out of work. I will fight the ban.

We have a legitimate, thriving, well-regulated industry. It is 99% walk-up: People love the chance to get up close and pet a beautiful horse in an urban environment. The horse is the star. That special experience can't be replaced with an electric car.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Malone.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT