Recently, Jerry, a beautiful dapple-gray carriage horse, was struck down in the middle of the day in downtown Salt Lake City with what was deemed to be colic. It was pushing a hundred degrees outside, so the real reason for his collapse and subsequent death is disputable. Nonetheless, I am of strong belief that horses do not belong in the downtown area. Let’s use this unfortunate incident as a wake-up call and demand that this archaic practice be abolished.
When horses and huge carriages are mixed with cars, taxis, buses, pedestrians, bikes and emergency vehicles, it’s a recipe for disaster. Not to mention this animal is forced to breathe in car fumes all day in the hot sun. And for what? Horse-drawn carriage rides are from another century, and horses are exploited for profit and forced to live and work a grueling existence in modern-day Salt Lake City—all for a relatively few number of tourists who are attracted to them.
Why am I so passionate about this issue? I am a former carriage driver. I witnessed many abuses and injuries over the years. For example, the company for which I was employed worked many of their horses seven days a week. None ever saw a pasture. Their vet care was minimal.
And it was dangerous; I cannot tell you how many near misses I had with cars. Once, my horse got very spooked by a car horn (he was a spirited Appaloosa and had no business being a carriage horse), and he was literally galloping down the street and I had no control to stop him. We almost went into a river. I had a wedding party in the back—scary stuff.
I worked on the streets of Chicago. But all this can happen in Salt Lake City, too. Even if they are owned by a responsible company, these horses just do not belong in an urban setting. There have been too many accidents across the country where both horses and people have been seriously injured and some in which horses have died.