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Debate Over Horse-Drawn Carriages In New York Trots On

Scene of the crash in Columbus Circle. (credit: Eileen Lehpamer, 1010 WINS)

Scene of the crash in Columbus Circle. (credit: Eileen Lehpamer, 1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A small protest was held Saturday, days after a horse-drawn carriage collided with a car near Columbus Circle.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages held a demonstration Saturday afternoon at the corner of Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.

“Horses don’t belong in traffic, it’s an inhumane and unsafe industry and it needs to be shut down,” coalition president Elizabeth Forel told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

But a horse-drawn carriage driver said accidents are rare and called the protest alarmist.

“To say that it’s unsafe for the horse or the people is ridiculous. The amount of accidents we’ve had in the history of this business, it’s so rare,” Gareth Smith told Smith.

Forel said horses have no place in New York City, with so many people around.

“And when they spook, they become unwitting weapons. They weigh between 1,200 and 2,000 pounds,” Forel told Smith.

Another driver told Smith horse-drawn carriages have a stellar safety record.

“How many taxis have accidents in any one single day?” the driver said. “We might have one accident in maybe two years,” he told Smith.

On Thursday, a six-year-old black and white Gelding named “Oreo” went on a wild ride after getting frightened near Columbus Circle and Central Park South.

The horse took off, eventually crashing the carriage into a vehicle, injuring two tourists and the driver. Oreo was eventually corralled blocks away.