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Carriage horse spooked and killed in New York City

The Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages reported Smoothie's accident over the weekend, and highlighted a raft of media reports.

September 16, 2007

A 13-year-old carriage horse named Smoothie died in New York City on Friday after she was spooked by musical drums and bolted. The death comes just weeks after a critical audit of the city's carriage horse industry from New York's Comptroller.

Several carriage horses were parked at Central Park South between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, when a man beating a drum walked past the horses. The man was reported to be accompanying a break-dancing group. Reports say the noise caused Smoothie to bolt for nearly a block, until her carriage became tangled in a tree. As she struggled to free herself from it she broke her leg and went into shock, then collapsed and died.

Another horse who was in front of her was also frightened by the melee, and bolted across the street into traffic. He ended up on the hood of a Mercedes, which was damaged.

The Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages (CBHDC) reported that a customer from a local restaurant unhooked the second horse from the carriage and took him away from the car while Smoothie was struggling to free herself from her carriage.

Roger Watkins, a passer-by who stopped to try to help, was quoted in the New York Times: "It fell into a panic and then fell on the ground, kicking. He kept shaking and then went into shock and collapsed."

Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said in a statement: "We are devastated by the tragic and sudden loss of our mare Smoothie. This afternoon's freak accident was overwhelming to all of us in the industry who so dearly love our horses. The history of our industry is that we take great pride and tremendous care for our horses, which makes this incident all the more tragic."

The day after the accident the street musicians were asked to move to another area. Humane Society of the United States Executive Vice President Michael Markarian said: "Horses and city traffic are a dangerous and inhumane combination."

There will be a candlelight vigil for carriage horses on September 20, at the north end of Grand Army Plaza. This is equivalent to 60th St. and 5th Avenue - north of the statue - right at Central Park in Manhattan. Same time - 5:30-7:30 on Thursday, September 20. The vigil is in honour of Smoothie, and two other carriage horses who have died while on duty in the city, Juliet and Spotty.


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