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CARRIAGE HORSES
Letters & Editorials

FEEBLE 'WAGNER ACT' FOR THE HORSES OF NEW YORK CITY

August 17, 1981

To the Editor:
 
As the member of a horse-owning family and a rider with over 20 years'
experience, I feel I must reply to the officials of this city who
composed the so-called ''Wagner Act'' for horses (news story Aug. 10).

It is obvious that the authors of the bill have no basic knowledge of the
equine species and, worse still, didn't bother to seek professional
advice when drafting the bill.

Carriage horses would be allowed to work 10 out of every 20 hours? Rental
hacks 8 out of every 24 hours? This is kindness? No horse should be
expected to work for 8 to 10 hours on any given day and be expected to
stay healthy.

A more reasonable approach would be to adopt an hour on/hour off
policy for any given 8-to-10-hour period in each day. This means the animal
would be required to work for 4 to 5 hours, with 4 to 5 hours of rest interspersed.

Riding horses may canter but not gallop? I would like to ask Councilmen
Stern and Povman to define each gait. The difference is not in speed but
in action of the legs. Regulating speed by gait is rather asinine, as
horses, like people, all move at different speeds in all of their gaits.
The clause should have spoken of ''reckless speed.'' As with automobile
drivers, it is fairly obvious to the untrained observer when a rider is
being reckless.

In principle, the authors of the bill have the right spirit. A horse,
like any other animal, deserves certain protections from abuse. However,
the bill, in its attempt to be all-encompassing, has a number of
loopholes which foil its intended function. The problem is compounded by
the fact that the enforcing agencies are admittedly understaffed.

New York City already has more than its share of ineffective programs.
Another shouldn't be added, especially when the law is as biased as it is
against those who own horses for private pleasure. The bill regulates
nothing pertaining to such horses.

Each type of animal should have been regulated differently, viz., the
carriage horse, the rental hack and the private-pleasure horse. As the
proposed bill now stands, the small business man and the private
individual are being asked to pay for a $50,000-per-year program that is
based on the sympathetic response of uninformed lawmakers.

A bill which could have been a wonderful asset, providing protections
heretofore denied, has been bungled, becoming instead a useless but
expensive program.

I urge the Mayor not to sign the bill on Aug. 19 without informing
himself about the issues at stake.

CHRISTINA A. GRAY
New York, Aug. 10, 1981

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