MIDTOWN — A carriage horse accident Wednesday sparked a protest and further fanned the flames between hansom cab operators and animal rights activists.
Spartacus, 15, collapsed onto 59th Street and Fifth Avenue while he was still attached to his carriage, a picture and video of the mishap shows. Workers are seen bending over and touching the horse while a crowd looks on.
“We are here today because yesterday eyewitnesses report that a bus drove very close to a carriage, spooking a horse who then began to run," PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne said Thursday afternoon, flanked by dozens of protesters holding placards with pictures of injured horses.
"After the horse bucked and started to run the carriage tipped over onto the curb, pinning the horse down. This is more tragic evidence of why it is time to take these dangerous cruel carriages off the streets of New York City.”
The carriage industry admitted the animal fell, but said the incident was caused by a horse unexpectedly pulling out of its spot behind Spartacus, causing the front wheel of its carriage to hit the back wheel of Spartacus' carriage and tipping it over.
"Several carriage drivers immediately came to the horse's aid, keeping him calm and laying down while they unharnessed him, got him untangled and righted the lightweight carriage before safely allowing him to get to his feet," the Historic Horse Drawn Carriages of Central Park, LLC said in a statement. "Unharmed, Spartacus was reharnessed and rehitched to the carriage, whereupon he was driven directly home to his stable on West 38th St. to await the arrival of the vet. In all, this was a very minor incident with no injuries whatsoever to horse or human."
Spartacus' owner, Tony Salerno, 62, who bought him 11 years ago, took the horse for a walk outside his stable on 38th Street Thursday to show he was not injured.
“I tried to keep him down until we took off the harness and everything and this way when he get up he get up nice and clean and he don’t have to damage himself," Salerno, who is originally from Italy, said. "Everybody knows how much I love this horse."
The carriage horse industry has become a big political issue this year after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wanted to ban the use of horses and replace them with electric cars.
Legislation banning carriage horses has yet to be introduced in the city council.