New film to delve into New York’s carriage horse issue

A carriage horse in New York City.
A carriage horse in New York City.

A film on New York’s contentious carriage horse issue is under production by independent filmmaker Haverstick Films and Horse Lifestyle Media.

The two companies will co-produce the film, based on the short form documentary Save NYC Horse Carriages, narrated by Liam Neeson (below). The longer format will allow the independent filmmakers to track the issue over time, as the struggle plays out in New York City and across the country.

© Karen A Chase
© Karen A Chase

Producers say the new film, to be titled The Last Horsemen of New York, will take the audience “directly inside the battle of the carriage industry and attempt to show the dynamic forces at play as the drivers seek to hold on to their way of life”.

The project is being partially funded, and an additional $50,000 is being sought to continue production.

Characters from both sides of the debate will be profiled, including the struggle of the drivers and their supporting unions, and the opposing animal welfare activists and campaign politics.

“We’ll be actively seeking comments from both sides of this debate to best frame the story,” said director Mary Haverstick. “Who knows when we’re rolling the camera what stories will erupt. We will explore each story as they unfold, the more current this is – the better.”

The film project takes on the debate concerning the humane care of the NYC carriage horses, and the ethical treatment of animals. The producers will further juxtapose the viewpoints from several communities, such as the Amish, that still rely on the working animal relationship.

“This documentary is a point of view and not everyone is going to agree with it, but it’s necessary to put this story on film to best illustrate the impact over time. The news sound-bites are inadequate to the full narrative at play,” Haverstick said.

“We are going to follow the issue from its historical base to its national outcome.  We will broaden this story out to show the entire perspective and raise the questions that force us to evaluate ourselves and our relationship with animals in the world. This will be the documentary of record on this subject. We don’t know how this is going to end.”

Sarah A. Chase, Chief Business Officer for Horse Lifestyle Media, said she was confident that Haverstick Films would take care to portray the politically and philosophically divisive issues surrounding the carriage horse indutry in the city.

“We’re reminded of the saying that ‘Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization we will find the hoofprint of the horse beside it,’ and Horse Lifestyle Media is pleased to support this  project because it further illustrates the pivotal role horses continue to play in shaping our modern perspectives.”

Below: The 10-minute film titled Save NYC Horse Carriages, narrated by Liam Neeson:

The Last Horsemen of New

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