A Horse Retirement Plan

The horses of Central Park work hard, and a group of New Yorkers would like to make sure that they get the retirement that they deserve. The group, called New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, or NYCLASS believes that the best way to ensure a safe future for horses is to give them a retirement policy (first reported by nydailynews.com).

The group is urging lawmakers to draft an official policy for the retirement of horses, which will cover approximately 200 carriage horses in Central Park. The group also asks that the policy include a ban on selling carriage horses for slaughter, a practice which currently occurs when “retirement farms” for horses close down.

In the wake of a horse retirement farm’s recent closure, this issue seems more pressing than ever. Blue Star Farm in West Brookfield, Connecticut was home to several retired Central Park horses. According to NYCLASS, the farm is known as being “the carriage industry’s only known location for retiring a handful of carriage horses out of the hundreds…” that work as carriage horses. While Blue Star was, according to NYCLASS, not the “ideal retirement home for carriage horses” due to their policy of selling horses that they took in, it was still “preferable to the usual grim scenario” of horses who may possibly end up in slaughterhouses.

NYCLASS believes that the mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare — a group created recently due to a newly passed Council bill — should oversee the horse retirement policy.  The group’s Executive Director Edita Birnkrant wrote Council members a letter regarding the effects of not having a policy in place. “In the absence of any official retirement policy, what will happen to all these horses who are too old or ill to pull carriages?”, she said. According to Birnkrant, “nobody knows, not even the carriage operators”.

While the policy seems favorable for the horses, some carriage horse drivers are not so sure about the plan. According to a driver, Christina Hansen, the policy could be potentially “unconstitutional and unhealthy for horses.” According to Hansen, the “carriage industry has always done an excellent job of retiring carriage horses to private homes outside the city”. She claims that the”beloved carriage horses do not go to slaughter” at all.

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