VHS is launching a new horse carriage campaign
A near-disastrous incident involving horse-drawn carriages in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2016 led to renewed calls for an end to the use of horse carriages in urban areas. The incident happened after a car horn spooked a pair of carriage horses, who ran off the road and across a bike path, hitting a park bench with the carriage before coming to a stop after approximately a hundred metres. In the midst of the situation, the driver fell out and frightened passengers jumped from the carriage. Thankfully, no one, including the horses, was reported injured, but still today the incident serves as a reminder of the dangers of operating horse carriages in unpredictable urban environments, something other municipalities are beginning to act on. In fact, January 1st of this year marked the end of horse-drawn carriages in Montreal.
VHS has also joined the fight to end horse-drawn carriages in Victoria. It was a May 2018 incident involving Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages that seemed to revive the debate over the highly controversial practice and has ultimately brought the issue before Victoria City Council. The traffic incident, in which a horse carriage was bumped by a bus, led to two trolley horses slipping and falling onto the street. Video of the incident showed the horses struggling to get up for over five minutes, with members of the public attempting to intervene and inadvertently putting themselves at risk. The incident made media headlines and led to questions about whether horse-drawn carriages and trolleys should continue to be permitted in increasingly busy and traffic-congested urban environments.
In 2019, the debate made its way to Victoria City Council, as Councillor Ben Isitt proposed banning horse carriages by 2023. Council opted to seek further input from the BC SPCA before deciding on any changes to the practice. As an organization that has advocated for ending the operation of horse-drawn carriages in Vancouver, in particular in Stanley Park and more recently at holiday events in the city, Vancouver Humane has also submitted a letter to Victoria City Council, calling for a ban on the operation of horse-drawn carriages and trolleys in urban settings.
Our concerns are for the welfare of the horses, who are subjected to pulling carriages and trollies in urban environments that pose serious safety risks to both the animals and the public. The regular exposure to traffic, noise and pollution; the long hours of standing and walking on hard surfaces; and the hard labour under sometimes extreme weather conditions are not consistent with a horse guardian’s responsibility to provide high-quality, long-term care for horses.
VHS is concerned about the prevalence of horse carriages on the increasingly busy streets of Vancouver and around BC, with carriage rides being offered at a number of local events throughout the year, in addition to regular operations in Stanley Park. VHS has repeatedly written to business associations that have sponsored horse carriage rides at their events, highlighting concerns for the welfare and safety of the animals and the public who they share the road with. We also sent a letter to Victoria City Council, as they deliberated how to address growing concerns surrounding horse carriages in their city.
So long as horse carriages continue to operate in urban environments like Vancouver and Victoria, it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” another incident like the one in Stanley Park occurs. Beyond the immediate risks, we’re also concerned about the overall well-being of horses in these settings. This is why VHS is launching a new horse-drawn carriage campaign in 2020.
Subscribe to our ‘take action on advocacy campaigns’ mailing list to learn more about the upcoming campaign!
How you can help
Boycott horse carriage rides and tours, and ask your friends and family to do the same.
Donate to VHS’ efforts to stop the exploitation of carriage horses and other animals.
It was a May 2018 incident involving Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages that seemed to revive the debate over the controversial practice and has ultimately brought the issue before Victoria City Council. The traffic incident, in which a horse carriage was bumped by a bus, led to two trolley horses slipping and falling onto the street. Video…
VHS has written to Vancouver’s mayor and council, calling for an end to horse-drawn carriage rides in the city following this week’s near-disaster in Stanley Park. Monday’s incident, in which frightened horses bolted on to the seawall pulling a carriage full of passengers, was a serious threat to both public and animal safety. The runaway…