Wednesday, September 19, 2007

 

More on "Smoothie's" Death from NYT





A Carriage Horse Dies After Bolting Onto a Sidewalk



By ANAHAD O’CONNOR and KAI MA
Published: September 15, 2007
A carriage horse was killed near Central Park yesterday after it became startled by a loud noise and darted onto a sidewalk, where it became stuck between two poles and died as it tried to lunge forward, the police and witnesses said.

The events began about 4:50 p.m. on Central Park South between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, where several carriage horses were parked in a row. According to witnesses, a man walked past the horses while beating a small drum, which caused a brown horse that was hitched to a carriage to bolt onto the sidewalk, darting between two poles that were about two feet apart. The horse made it through but the carriage did not, and as the horse struggled to move forward, it collapsed and died, witnesses said.
“It fell into a panic and then fell on the ground, kicking,” said Roger Watkins, who was walking by and tried to help. “He kept shaking and then went into shock and collapsed.”
At the same time, a second horse ran into the street and leaped onto the hood of a passing Mercedes-Benz, witnesses said. That horse survived, and the passengers in the car, which was badly damaged, said they were not injured.
“It ran across the hood, along with the carriage,” said Lakesha Heidelberg, 19, who was sitting in the passenger seat. “Then it stopped in the middle of the street. I was so shook up, you have no idea.”
Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said the death of the first horse, a 12-year-old mare named Smoothie, was “devastating.”
“This afternoon’s freak accident was overwhelming to all of us in the industry who so dearly love our horses,” she said. “The history of our industry is that we take great pride and tremendous care for our horses, which makes this incident all the more tragic.”
The accident came only a week after the comptroller’s office criticized the city for the way it polices the carriage horse industry. An audit by the comptroller found that the city had permitted owners to maintain their horses in substandard conditions and that monitoring by the health department and other agencies was inadequate, leading to health hazards for horses and putting them at risk of injury.
Last year, one horse that was pulling a Central Park carriage to a stable on the West Side became startled in traffic and darted into a car, injuring the carriage driver. The horse was later euthanized. It was among several accidents involving carriage horses in recent months.
Victor Hernandez, 25, a pedi-cab driver who was near Central Park at the time of yesterday’s accident, said he heard a loud drumming sound and then saw the first horse run off. He said it was on the ground for about 45 minutes before it was taken away.
“New York deserves to have horses and carriages, but these horses deserve a better life,” he said. “It’s romantic, sure, but they work too long and are tied up for too long. I think there’s a problem with how they’re treated in the city.”

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