By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on April 15, 2010 9:30 AM
Two weeks off each year, larger living quarters, and regular doctor’s visits--doesn't seem like a bad deal, huh? Especially if you’re a carriage horse. New York’s carriage horses got a bump in their living conditions when the City Council passed a bill yesterday that substantially improves the standard of living for the horses. Rates will now go up from $34 for the first 20 minutes of the ride to $50. After that, passengers will be billed at the rate of $20 for every 10 minutes, a jump from $10 for 15 minutes. (It’s the first rate hike in the carriage-horse industry in 23 years.) In addition, automatic cost-of-living increases will now occur every three years. Other changes? The horses will receive five weeks off each year, an additional vet visit, larger living quarters, and warm blankets. New lights and reflective materials will also be added to the carriages, as will an emergency brake system. In addition, you’ll have to find another way to impress your date below 34th Street--carriages won’t be allowed there. And you’ll also have to find something else to do between 3 am and 7 am—no carriage rides will take place then. Members of the Horse and Carriage Association say they support the bill. The carriage horse industry in New York has repeatedly come under fire for what critics say is inhumane treatment of the animals; many people have tried to completely shut down the industry. Although animal advocates say the bill doesn’t go far enough, Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law.