Yesterday the City Council passed legislation that will change the carriage horse industry, albeit not make it extinct, as many animal rights activists would like. Under the new bill, horses will be given five weeks off a year to "vacation" outside of the city, NY1 reports. Council speaker Christine Quinn called the move a “huge step forward" for the industry, and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz spoke of the tourist appeal, saying: "People all over the world come to New York City with plans to take a carriage ride through Central Park. This bill ensures they can continue to do so in an environment that treats both the horses and the drivers fairly."
On top of the vacation time, horses will get bigger stables and warm blankets, carriages will be required to don lights and reflective materials as well as an emergency brake system, and going forward no carriage rides will be allowed from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., or below 34th Street.
Drivers will also be getting their first raise since 1989; rates for a 20 minute ride will now be $50, up from $34, and an additional 10 minutes will cost $20, up from $10 for 15 minutes. There will be a cost-of-living increase every three years to make sure drivers don't have to wait another two decades before their next raise.
The new changes don't sit well with groups like NY Friends and Animals, however—one member said, "There is simply no way to make the industry in New York City healthy and humane for horses. It just simply can't be done." Bills banning carriage horse from the city, and replacing them with electric antique cars were introduced last year, but didn't pass the Committee on Consumer Affairs.