City to vote on changes to horse drawn carriage regulations

New rules include 16 hours of continuous rest for horses between shifts

SAN ANTONIO – On Aug. 1, the City Council will vote on several changes to the city's horse drawn carriage regulations.

Council members will decide whether to lower the maximum amount of operating hours from 10 hours to eight hours per day and keep the maximum operating temperature at below 95 degrees.

They'll also vote on how much time off a horse receives between shifts.

The city's Contract Veterinarian, Dr. Ben Epsy, recommended a mandatory rest period of 16 continuous hours, but carriage operators and companies objected saying it would be detrimental to business and to the horse's health, given that the horse would most likely be idle for an extended period of time over several days.

The city's Transportation Advisory Board recommended a "split shift" for the horses as long as no horse worked in excess of eight hours in a 24 hour period and the horse had 16 hours of continuous rest before starting another shift. 

Carriage operators said the new regulations should not have a major impact on their business, but some question the logic behind the changes.

"I think it is to accommodate some of the people who think that how we had it before was wrong," said carriage operator Christina Zigmond. "As for the horses, they are capable of so much more than we are. They're very strong animals, they can take a lot more than we think they can."

Animal rights groups plan to protest at the council meetings.

They contend the more than 50 carriage horses in San Antonio suffer during the summer and will eventually end up in slaughter houses.

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