2006_09_cenparkhorse.jpgThere's a really sad story about a Central Park carriage horse that died Thursday night in the NY Times today. Antonio Provenzano had be driving his horse Juliet and carriage on Thursday night, when Juliet collapsed, he called his vet who instructed him to strike her "repeatedly in the flank with his thin five-foot whip to get her to her feet again" which he did. The thinking was that Juliet, a 37 year old horse, had colic and the whipping would make her get up and walk around to "rid herself of gas and waste." But a crowd of people and gathered and yelled things like "Stop beating that horse; you’re going to kill it" and a police officer told Provenzano to stop or he would be arrested.

“I’ve been around horses 30 years and I love my horse,” he said. “They think I want to hurt her?” When the veterinarian and officers from the mounted unit showed up at the park Thursday night, Mr. Provenzano was told he could resume the whipping.

Juliet climbed to her feet several times but promptly collapsed again. An employee from the Ritz Carlton nearby brought over a rug for the horse, and with great effort Juliet was placed on it, dragged into a police trailer and taken to the stable on 38th Street. After several hours of treatment by Mr. Provenzano and his veterinarian, Juliet died about 5 a.m. Her owner curled up in his carriage and tried to sleep.

The ASPCA took Juliet's body away to investigate the death. Provenzano, who drove Juliet and the carriage six nights a week for the past year, told the Times, “That horse was a member of my family. I told my mother she died and my mom started crying. I have no money to get another horse. I have a wife and two sons to support. Two things I can do: make pizza and drive a horse.”

Photograph of hansom cab, Central Park, and the city from isaiaht on Flickr