Five years ago, I appeared on a PETA billboard in Times Square to give the campaign against horse-drawn carriages in New York City a boost. I was proud to help make this issue a hot topic, and I'm thrilled that we now have the enthusiastic support of the city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio.
Watching a horse gallop across a field is one of the most calming sights imaginable. Watching a horse dodge traffic-nose to tailpipe and spooked by horns, sirens, and pounding music-is one of the most upsetting. This Buzzfeed story from last week says it all.
I grew up caring for horses and mucking stalls for my aunt, who owns a horse farm in North Carolina. I learned that horses are very social herd animals who, by nature, spend their days grazing, playing, and running together. Sadly, the 220 horses in New York City in the carriage industry endure a miserable, solitary life, forced to navigate through midtown traffic in all weather extremes pulling heavy loads of tourists.
Routine accidents have left horses dead and people in the hospital. When not working, the horses don't live in barns but in cramped stalls in an old tenement building without even enough room to stretch out. When they are finally freed, I will be among the first to adopt one of these horses so that he or she can live as nature intended.