Yay, We Won!!

Yay, We Won!!
Now Where's My Carrot??

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author Michael Gross Loves Him Some Carriage Horses!

Author Michael Gross wrote an insightful and supportive piece on us that he posted on his blog yesterday, it is a must-read (link below in letter)

I just had to thank Mr. Gross. This is the email I sent:

Dear Mr. Gross,
You gave a whole lotta deserving people a little encouragement - and a respite from a grueling battle - with your piece Michael Gross : Clap Your Hands Say Neigh .
I've been in the NYC carriage business for 27 years, since I was 19 years old. I think it's pretty safe to say that we are among the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned groups in this city, and there is always a plan afoot to strangle us, close us down, or replace us. It is rare that a person of your stature takes the time to express support and insight into our situation.
Scratch the surface of our little industry and you might be surprised at the history and complex politics of it all; a cottage industry of animal rights groups, self-serving politicians and "city leaders", propaganda, land grab plots - we have it all.
If you're interested, my blog link is in my signature below, and I would be delighted to expand on anything you find there, or answer any questions you may have.
Again, on behalf of us & the horses, thank you.
What a breath of fresh air Mr. Gross' piece was!
Every kind and supportive word helps, and we are very grateful to Michael Gross.

Michael Gross is one of America’s most provocative non-fiction writers. A contributing editor of Travel + Leisure and editor of Bergdorf Goodman Magazine, he’s written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Town & Country, the New York Times and New York, and authored ten books, among them, the best-sellers Model and 740 Park. His next, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum will be published on May 12, 2009


Slave Driver said...

Excellent post by Mr Gross. Thank you for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

Well....it's Mary Kate Danaher here LOL. My favorite movie as well. John Wayne looks just like my Dad in the movie.
Mr. Gross seems to be a romantic. He does have some solid suggestions when it comes to the Central Park region. Why is it so radical to say that horses and Manhattan traffic should not mix? I believe it is incumbent upon the city to have a facility for the horses much like their equine police facility and have a carriage horse only area in the Park. AND for the horses to never ride outside the park unto the streets of Manhattan.

MichaleenFlynn said...

Mary Kate, is it!? Did you bring yer fortune with ye?


Yes, I would agree there is an underlying romaticism to Mr. Gross' outlook, but it is tempered with a strong feel for the 'proper order', as the Irish say.

As far as the 'mixing' of horses and traffic, they are actually components of the same organism; bicyclists, horse carriages, pedicabs, cars, buses, trucks - they all make up what we call 'traffic'. That a non-human animal pulls the carriage doesn't make it any less so.

If there were constant problems with this arrangement for the horse, it would be reasonable to visit the topic for remedy. But day in and day out, fit, content horses work and live without incident. Horses have incredible adaptability. Elsewhere on this blog you can find some more specific safety stats: we have a stellar record.

NYC police horses live and work much the same as the carriage horses do; they work on pavement, in traffic, with rare incident. Their facilities vary throughout the city.

With regard to keeping carriages horses only in the Park, it might sound good on its face, but the issue is actually complex and pretty much undoable:

1) Central Park is landmark, and its historical and topographical integrity is jealously guarded by the Central Park Conservancy and others(and rightfully so)

2) With 200 registered carriage horses, the amount of land it would take to house them and provide turn out would be enormous; also, shod horses need separate paddock areas so that they don't kick each other and cause severe injury...you get the idea

3) The roads that run through Central Park are open to cars Monday thru Friday, so the horses would still be in "traffic" much of the time

4) The night shift does a good deal of business in midtown after 9pm; restricting them to the Park would be an extreme economic liability for the industry

Horses are creatures of habit, and thrive on routine. A horse that is clean, well-fed, shod properly, and has a job that he knows and a driver who cares for him is usually a "happy" horse (the concept of "happiness" in animals is fodder for another day, but I use it here for want of a more relatable word LOL) Said horse (of proper breed background and training) couldn't care less whether he is walking on W49th Street or on the East Drive through Central Park. Just make sure his creature comforts and health are attended to, that he has mental stimulation and affection, and he will do just fine.

Thanx for posting, see you in Inishfree ;-)

MichaleenFlynn said...

Hey Slave, glad you enjoyed it, thanx for popping by :-)

MichaleenFlynn said...

Addendum to my comment in response to Anonymous:

Just to clarify, I LOVE Mr. Gross' recommendations re: the traffic patterns around Central Park. Because the carriages spend the lion's share of the day on CPS, and because, as Mr. Gross correctly pointed out, the double parked buses, the endless parade of semi tractor trailers, trucks, et al, and just the general congestion of that little stretch of road, it would be a great idea to cordone off the westbound lanes for the carriages. Even just giving over the right lane alone to carriages would be a vast improvement. Central Park South used to be an elegant thoroughfare; years ago when I first started driving, there were "NO COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC" signs on CPS. They are long gone, and the street could use some discipline to restore it's former atmosphere.

But as Michael Gross said, any changes should work in the carriages' favor, not against them.

After all, we helped to create that elegant atmosphere, and we were there first ;-)

PrairieFarmer said...

MichaleenFlynn -
I found your blog! And wow, I wish I had found the carriage horses the one and only time I was in NYC, I would have felt much more at home in the strange, big city that was pretty frightening for a very small town girl!
Instead, had many lectures from the taxi-drivers because I was incredibly bad at getting one. (Where I live we have ONE taxi, services a 50 mile long island, total population about 100 K).
But it just flabbergasts me that your industry is being so hounded (again, coming back into this horse thing after many years absence, and what a change...). How can people NOT see how healthy the horses are? How they have a partnership with their drivers? A good horse enjoys the work, for godsake! How can people not only see that they are not only romantic, fun and a historic link to the NYC past but how the horses can represent another mode of transportation? And I really don't understand how anybody who considers themselves at all a horse person can just not get this. Didn't anybody every actually read Black Beauty????
But, call me crazy. And I don't even drive (yet). Grew up with horses all over the place but we didn't have carriage horses or drafts at that time (although my grandfather and great-grandfather did and we still have some really cool wagons in our barn). But my hope is there will still be enough good drafts, and horsefarmers to teach me, so that I can start incorporating them into my farm over the next 5 years. Although I do enjoy my really old tractors!
Has Lynn Miller (Small Farmers Journal), chimed in on any of this? Just curious what he would think.
And did you get to meet Liam Neeson? Oh-la-la!

Amber said...

Thank you for coming to the Fugly blog and setting the record straight on carriage horses. I'm not a fan of horses and traffic either (have had a few bad experiences riding horses on the road) but 3 fatalities in all that time is a record to be happy about when no other equine activity can even come close. It is a truly sad thing that 3 horses have died, but things do happen.But heck, two horses have died recently while their human decided drivng them on a highway was a good idea....

If I am correct, the majority of the carriage rides are in Central Park, aren't they? I know I saw some in Times Square last time I was in the city, but I'm thinking most of them are in CP.

Oh, if I make it to the city again, can I take you up on the offer of a guided tour? I'd love to see it for myself and then tell everyone that tries to tell me how cruelly they are treated, THE TRUTH!

Amber said...

Here's some pictures I took in the fall of '07 in Central Park. Just thought you'd like to see them!

Anonymous said...

I just found your videos and your blog by following links from Fugly Horse of the Day blog. I can't even express my pleasure to have found someone with the courage to speak out against the extremely foolish animal "rights" movement. For those people to harass you and your fellow drivers is unbelievable. Your horses are in impeccable condition, obviously content and are very well cared for. There is absolutely nothing for anyone to complain about. Btw, I have never before had any desire to go to NYC, but after this I would love to go just to see the carriage horses. I believe in supporting small businessmen with what few dollars I have to spend. The fact that my dollars would be spent going for a ride in a beautiful carriage behind a beautiful well cared for horse would be icing on the cake.
Keep up the good fight and keep educating people!
A fellow horseman from
New Brunswick, Canada

Erin said...

I just wanted to comment to let you know that I've been reading the comments in the FHOTD blog and my heart really goes out to you. I AM a vegetarian (vegan formerly), and not that that is relevant, but I certainly support your business and can clearly see that you have provided all the evidence in the world - IF PEOPLE WOULD BE WILLING TO REVIEW IT - to prove that your horses have it great. Your points about the dangers of any equestrian discipline are well taken. Eventing for one has injured many horses and people and yet no one minds.
I wish there was some sort of psychological test to measure how happy/satisfied your horses are vs. the showring Arabs who get gingered, on track TBs, and halter QHs who get built up like steers so much they can hardly trot. But what would it matter...ignorance is bliss and some people just see what suits them. I suggest you do not raise your blood pressure over them - although I'm sure it's easier said than done. At least know you do have support from people who love animals like you do AND who are intelligent and open minded enough to arm themselves with information, not propaganda.

If nothing else, glad to have found your blog!!

(and check out fuglywenchoftheday.blogspot.com. This is where I go when Cathy and I do not agree. It's sorta silly but sometimes therapeutic.)

Erin said...

"There is more cruelty represented in an egg-salad sandwich than in the last 50 years of the lives NYC carriage horses. Know anything about the egg business?

And as a new mother, I hope you are breastfeeding; if you aren't, you are using formula that either has animal products in it that come from factory farms (more cruelty), or soy-based, which represents one of the most heavily-treated crops anywhere in the world, contributing to the demise of animal's habitats from run off pollution, etc. Not to mention the millions of animals - mice, rabbits, deer, voles, moles, etc - that are eradicated constantly by crop farmers in order to keep their crops from being eaten."


Erin said...

"There is more cruelty represented in an egg-salad sandwich than in the last 50 years of the lives NYC carriage horses. Know anything about the egg business?

And as a new mother, I hope you are breastfeeding; if you aren't, you are using formula that either has animal products in it that come from factory farms (more cruelty), or soy-based, which represents one of the most heavily-treated crops anywhere in the world, contributing to the demise of animal's habitats from run off pollution, etc. Not to mention the millions of animals - mice, rabbits, deer, voles, moles, etc - that are eradicated constantly by crop farmers in order to keep their crops from being eaten."


Cut-N-Jump said...

Keep fighting the good fight!

You should have to fight at all, but with ignorance expanding around us all, well...

I shall be checking back from time to time. It's always good to see folks doing things right by their horses.

Kelty said...

Saw you through the fugly blog. I am also amazed that you have been on the receiving end of so much flack!
Your horses make a living as partners with you, and seem so well taken care of. Good job sticking up for yourself.!
Hey, do you ever have horses that are ready to retire from full time but still ok for light work? Would love to hear about it if you do!

Amber said...

I wanted to give you a link to my blog. I hadn't decided really what to do with it, but posted my thoughts on animal rights vs. animal welfare, and my thoughts on carriage horses.


Kirri said...

Michaleen I have come here form FHOTD.....I am on your side, and any help I can be, I shall be gladly!!
Hands across the ocean, dear one, Cathy is off centre on this one, she does not often get it this wrong, believe me, but her next days blog is back on course!!!

The Turd Burglar said...

Careful not to drown in all the BS on that other blog. What are the stats on Fhotd's precious thoroughbreds and their hunting and eventing and jummping? The shite deepens.
PS This burglar would be honored to pick up after such well cared fore and content horses!