A plan to shut down a 45th Street stable to make room for affordable housing could put 32 carriage horses on the street — and 17 carriage drivers out of work. Horses in the Shamrock Stables might lose their only place to hit the hay (sorry) by December, when the animals and their drivers are booted from their city-owned building so the Department of Housing Preservation and Development can construct 1,300 units of affordable housing and 10,000 feet of retail space.
Shamrock Stables owner Ian McKeever told the Post he was "blindsided" by the news. "Eight months ago, they said it would be years and years before the site was developed," he said. "Six weeks ago, we were told there were no development plans yet on the site." The city maintains that the drivers have long known they would be kicked out of the stable, and a city impact study found that there was room for the horses at Manhattan's four other stables. But carriage drivers say that as the lucrative holiday season approaches, stable space becomes scarce — meaning that few, if any, of the soon-to-be homeless horses will find a stable to call home.
This, of course, isn't the only controversy in the horse-drawn industry. Following a city audit that discovered some carriage owners "maintain their horses in substandard conditions," animal rights activists have been pushing to ban carriages from Central Park (in September, there was a terrible crash between a horse-drawn carriage and cab). Some have urged the city to replace the horse-drawn carriages with eco-friendly replicas of Model T Fords — a proposal that they say could keep carriage drivers from losing their jobs. But drivers and carriage lovers like actor Liam Neeson continue to fight to keep horses in the park.