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11th Aug 2022

Onlookers watch in horror as carriage horse flogged by driver after collapsing on busy NY street

Steve Hopkins

The footage has reignited debate around horse-drawn carriages

An exhausted carriage horse collapsed on the street in an “absolutely horrifying” scene in New York City on Wednesday that resulted in its driver repeatedly striking the animal while demanding it “get up”.

In video footage of the incident, the horse’s knees buckle as the driver jerks its reins and slaps the animal in an attempt to get it to move off the Manhattan street where it stopped.

“Get up! Get up! Get up! C’mon, get up,” the frustrated driver commanded, as traffic backed up on 9th Avenue and West 45th Street in Hell’s Kitchen around 5pm, the New York Post reported.

The publication said disturbed onlookers ordered the driver to “stop slapping him” as he tired to reassure them that he was just trying to get the animal to stand up.

The horse wouldn’t budge though, as it rested his head on the street.

A pedestrian later helped the driver remove the carriage before police arrived.

Videos shows officers dousing the stricken animal with water and finally rousing him to his feet – reportedly more than an hour after he collapsed.

The horse was then transported away for treatment by the NYPD’s mounted unit.

Witnesses told the Post that the horse looked “malnourished, dehydrated, hungry”.

Of the incident, that came at the end of the brutal heatwave, Uber Eats driver Kelvin Gonzalez, 25, told the Post: “The guy started whipping his horse and telling him to get back up instead of giving him water.

“I told him, ‘Yo, stop whipping him, give him some water. That’s a horse, not a machine.’

“It’s really sad, man. You can tell that horse was not taken care of. You can tell he was exploiting that horse. The horse was hungry, he was thirsty. You can tell the horse collapsed from the thirst.”

Gonzalez said the horse tried to get up 10 times, but kept collapsing and was unable to get to its feet until police gave it adrenaline.

Advocates said the animal had been passed out on 9th Avenue for over an hour with no veterinary care, reigniting calls for horse-drawn carriages to be replaced with electronic vehicles.

New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable, and Safe Streets executive director Edita Birnkrant, wrote in a statement: “How many more incidents like this do we need? This is clearly animal abuse and it must be stopped.”

The fight against commercial carriage rides in Central Park and Midtown has accelerated in recent years and months, the Post noted, after footage of horses collapsing and running into cars went viral. The new measure would give horse drivers preferences for electric carriage licensure and require they be paid union wages.

The Transport Workers (TWU) Union, which represents carriage drivers, told the Post that the horse involved had a “neurological disease caused by possum droppings” and urged people not to “rush to judgement”.

Mayor Eric Adams, who was endorsed by the TWU, has said he does not support a carriage ban but is open to discussing the issue.

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