Last week an older bay gelding named Billy was recovered from a Pennsylvania broker lot. It is part of one service Another Chance 4 Horses, a Pennsylvania all breed horse rescue provides every week to help horses find homes. Christy Sheidy, co-founder of the 501(c)3 all volunteer organization travels to local broker barns, photographs and videos horses, and places them on her website in a section entitled Broker Horses. Volunteers called Horse Helpers research tattoo numbers, registration papers, etc, in attempts to find out where these horses came from, and interact with various social media groups helping many owners reunite with their lost horses, finding responsible owners who bring their horses homes, finding stolen horses and most of the time facilitate finding new homes for these animals.
Billy, who is now named Bobby II had been a New York carriage horse previously owned by West Side Livery Stables on West 38th Street. The horse had worked for the carriage company the last six or seven years according to owners Maria Sulla and Sebastian Spina. Billy had been sent to an Amish farm for his required five weeks off, but during that time, the owners had replaced Billy with a new carriage horse. Since Billy was no longer needed, they told the farm owner to sell Billy to an Amish family to be used as a farm horse. Instead the horse ended up on a broker lot, and because of his age and condition was likely to have been shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.
On March 16, 2010 Saveno Colarusso a carriage driver for West Side Livery Stables received a $175 fine and 30 day suspension of his carriage driver’s license after pleading guilty to operating a horse draw carriage while ” under the influence of intoxicating liquors.”
Billy was rescued and purchased from the broker lot for $600 and sent to Equine Advocates, a horse rescue in Chatham, New York where he will be retired on their 140 acre farm.
Even though there are no slaughter plants in the US since 2007, nearly 100,000 American equines are still sent abroad to be slaughtered for their meat.
The New York carriage horse debate remains a contentious issue, but it is no different than the issues of race horses, show horses, or breeding horses. There’s good and bad in every industry.
Opponents claim when horses are no longer useful as carriage horses, their owners sell the horses for slaughter. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages claim the business is inhumane, not safe, and a danger to people and animals. They have been advocating to permanently stop carriage horses on New York City streets.
ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Department enforces state and local animal protection laws including the New York State animal cruelty law and the carriage protection laws.
In an interview with Chateau Stables, New York’s oldest working stable, Anita McGill claims her horses are very well treated. They are rotated out to a farm the family owns in Pennsylvania, have frequent medical checkups, avoid rush hour traffic, have trained drivers and all horses are well-trained.
” We donate our retirees to horse rescues who check on adopters and their references. Any adoption fees from those horses go to save more horses in danger of slaughter. Sometimes we give the retired horses to our families and friends for light riding trail horses,” McGill explained. ” As to the rare owner who does not choose to properly retire their horse, we as the vast majority of responsible owners do not condone or make excuses for this terrible judgment; it’s greed and carelessness, plain and simple. Thankfully, this has been an extremely rare case, and just like any other business, you will find at least one bad apple. It’s unfortunate the anti-carriage protesters choose to make a “poster pony” out of each rare case.”
” The future of all our horses is very important to me,” continued McGill. ” We have donated horses to Blue Star Equiculture, Draft Horse Sanctuary and Organic Farm, and Another Chance 4 Horses.” Other stables use the New York Humane Society. It’s really unfair to blame everyone.”
Three days after Billy was found to be at the broker lot, Christy Sheidy received an email from Eva Hughes, of the New York Horse and Carriage Association stating, ” You have a bay gelding posted on June 22 that has a hoof number. Could you please tell me what that number is? I want to find out which owner here let his horse be bought by the killbuyer.”
Sheidy has been saving horses well over a decade and has rescued hundreds of horses of all breeds, sizes, and disciplines. ” Never in all my years of rescuing horses has any association ever contacted me first before I searched for them; not the thoroughbred associations, quarter horse associations, paint horse associations; none of them. I was truly impressed that the NY Horse and Carriage Association took the first step to police their own members,” Sheidy stated. ” I agree there’s good and bad in every business, but I like to weigh all the evidence before passing judgment.”