San Antonio Carriage
Horses - Are They Protected?
by Hardy & Sherry at Crocket Street Carriage Stand
carriages in downtown San Antonio have long been a common
sight on our city streets. For
just as long, there have been concerns of many of our citizens and
visitors about the well-being of the horses that are pulling these
carriages. A recent
complaint by PETA after an incident involving
carriage horse (not a Yellow Rose or HRH Carriage horse) has
again brought up questions on
the well-being of San Antonio carriage horses.
Most people do not realize that the City
of San Antonio has worked hard
to create an ordinance that addresses
the health and well-being of these horses from many
angles. Many hours of research with veterinarians, with permit holders (like
Rich and Anne Van Dyke of
Yellow Rose and HRH Carriage Co.’s), the general public, and animal welfare
organizations has produced a
very comprehensive ordinance. In fact, the San Antonio ordinance,
Chapter 33 which covers all ground
transportation businesses, is one of the strictest in the nation when it
comes to horse-drawn carriages.
The San Antonio
Ground Transportation Unit, GTU, is the city unit which
is in charge of enforcement over Yellow Rose Carriage and other
horse-drawn carriage companies in San
Antonio. GTU is a division of the police department and they have the
authority to issue warnings,
citations, and/or remove horses from the streets if they feel there is any
danger to the health and
well-being of the horse. They are often out monitoring the carriage stand locations
and other activities of the
carriages to keep a good eye on the horses as well as other aspects of the
daily operations of the carriage
paraphrased excerpts taken directly from the Chapter 33
ordinance which relate to the horses and their well-being. For
those who would like to read the
ordinance in its entirety, a copy of Chapter 33 is available online at www.municode.com or from the city clerk’s office.
Every horse that pulls a
carriage must first be licensed by the City of San Antonio. As part of the licensing process, the
permit holder is required to
provide a current health certificate and negative coggins, shot record, shoeing record,
and the necessary fee. Each
horse is inspected by the city veterinarian.
taken and an identification number is assigned which must
be clearly visible on the horse's hoof help the inspectors identify each horse. In
the operation of a carriage
service, horses can be geldings or mares, must be at least three years old; must weigh
at least twelve hundred pounds;
and must be in such physical condition so as to perform the required
horse-drawn carriage tasks without any
undue stress or effort. Horses must be treated for internal parasites every
four (4) months, and have their
shoes reset every six (6) to eight (8) weeks. Shoes must have a non-skid surface.
carriage may operate every day from October 1 through April
30 only during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 12:00
a.m. and every day from May 1
through September 30 only during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
to 12:00 a.m. However, all
carriage service operations shall be suspended whenever the ambient weather
temperature is at or exceeds
95°F. It is the
responsibility of the permit holder and the driver to:
The city manager
shall promulgate such rules and regulations as are
necessary to carry out the provisions of this ordinance and to promote the health,
safety and well-being of the
licensed horses. A veterinarian employed by the city shall be available on a regular
schedule and as may be
necessary to provide inspections and ascertain compliance with the terms and conditions
set forth in the ordinance.
- ensure that horses are not at work for
more than ten (10) hours in any
continuous twenty-four (24) hour period.
- ensure that horses are kept clean,
especially those areas in contact
with the harness or other tack.
- ensure that pads and other pieces of
tack are kept clean and in a safe
and serviceable condition.
- ensure that appropriate and sufficient
food and fresh, potable drinking
water are available for each as necessary.
- not allow a horse to be worked on a
public highway, path or street
during conditions which are determined by officers with power to enforce this
chapter and/or veterinarians
employed by the city to pose a threat to the health, safety or well-being of the horse.
If conditions develop while a
horse is being worked, the horse shall be returned to the stable by the most direct route.
- not allow a horse to be worked if they
appear unfit to include:
lameness of any kind, open sores or wounds caused or likely to be irritated by the
bearing surfaces of harness, bridle or
girths, signs of emaciation, dehydration or exhaustion,
and loose or missing shoes.
- A consecutive daily record of the
movements of each horse shall be kept
at the stable. Such records shall be made available at any reasonable time and
without prior notice for
inspection by any officer of the police department or any veterinarian employed by the city.
A horse may be
removed from service by any officer with the power to
enforce and/or any veterinarian employed with the city if said individual
determines that removal of the horse
is necessary for health and safety reasons to protect the horse. That horse
shall not be returned to work until
such time as the horse is reexamined and certified in writing by a veterinarian to be fit
to return to work.
long been an intricate part of Texas culture and Texas
history. The horse drawn carriages and the horses that pull them are a part of that great
history. They are
wonderful ambassadors for the city of San Antonio.
people have come together to ensure the health and safety of these
horses. It is our hope that with your support and your prayers PETA, and others like
them, will not make horses in
downtown San Antonio nothing more than a fond memory. For those of us who have a personal
relationship with the
horse, it is of critical importance that these great animals progress
with us into the future of Texas; that no one forces us to
make them relics of our