WesternU Researchers Study NYC Carriage Horse Stress Levels

Researchers from Western University of Health Sciences found no evidence of stress in New York City carriage horses.
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It doesn’t come straight from the horse’s mouth, but it could be the next best thing: A Western University of Health Sciences-led study indicates that carriage horses that trot the streets around Central Park and other New York City landmarks are not as stressed as some might think.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed ban on horse-dawn carriages has been a hotly debated topic since December 2014, when he  proposed city legislation that would outlaw their operation. De Blasio, who was elected mayor in 2013 and took office in January 2014, announced prior to taking office that he planned to eliminate horse-drawn carriages from New York’s streets. His proposed code amendment, which requires a majority vote of the New York City Council, would go into effect June 1, 2016. The mayor has suggested replacing the carriages with electrically-powered antique cars.

To gauge what levels of stress the horses might have as a result of their work, Joseph Bertone, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, Western University College of Veterinary Medicine (WesternU CVM) professor of equine medicine; second-year CVM student Sarah Mercer-Bowyer: and David Kersey, PhD, CVM assistant professor of physiology, studied the horses quartered at Clinton Park Stables, located on West 52nd Street, from Aug. 3 to 5, 2014.

"I wanted to identify the effect this situation has on these horses," Bertone said, "Ultimately, I’m concerned about equine welfare. On the other hand, I’m also concerned over claims that could dismantle … the lives of these grand horses. … So it’s important we collect the research and analyze the results objectively. In other words, let’s deal with the facts

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