New York mayor vows to put city's horses out to pasture

Bill de Blasio has called the long-running tourist practice of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park ‘inhumane’

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The Independent US

They’re a fixture on the New York tourist trail: horse-drawn carriages, clip-clopping through Central Park. But this throwback could be relegated to history books as the city’s new mayor takes office on New Year's Day.

Calling the practice inhumane, Bill de Blasio reiterated a campaign promise to ban horse-drawn carriages this week, bluntly telling a news conference: “It’s over.”

“We are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City,” he said.

But the carriage-drivers are promising to put up a fight. Speaking to the New York Daily News over the weekend, one of their number, Thomas Hennessy, said he feared for his livelihood as Mr de Blasio prepares to replace Michael Bloomberg. “This is my career,” he said, pointing out that tourists were flocking to the park in greater numbers to get in one last ride before the carriages disappear. “They were telling us, ‘We can’t believe what the mayor is doing.’”

Mr de Blasio’s plan is to replace the carriages with vintage cars, something that his team says would provide employment for those whose jobs would go with the ban.

His supporters, meanwhile, insist the impact on tourism will be limited. As the mayor-elect reiterated his promise on Monday, Allie Fledman, executive director of the animal rights group NYCLASS, told CNN: “No tourist comes to New York City just to ride on a horse carriage.”

Bill de Blasio, the city's mayor-elect, has called long-running tourist practice 'inhumane' (AP)

Activists say horses are made to work long hours during which time they must navigate busy streets, often ending up injured as a result of collisions with passing vehicles.

Opponents of the plans say the animals will likely end up being slaughtered.