Think of Texas and you likely think of cattle, oil wells, and bluebonnets in the spring. You may think of horses, too. There are nearly 1 million horses* in the state. It leads the nation as the home for many breeds such as the American Quarter Horse, Paints, Appaloosas, and others. According to a study from Texas A&M, horses provide a total statewide economic output of $5.9 billion.
Despite the hefty contribution that horses make to the state’s economy, City Council Member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez of District 2 and others on the city council are seeking to ban horse-drawn carriages in downtown San Antonio.
Why ban horse-drawn carriages?
McKee-Rodriguez claims that horses pulling a carriage in San Antonio is “inhumane.” He also says that the horse-drawn carriages create a negative environmental impact because of increased traffic congestion. These are the exact same claims made against horse-drawn carriages in New York and other cities, suggesting that carriage opponents don’t bother to investigate individual cities or how horses are cared for. They don’t look at how horses, carriages, and their drivers are suited for each location. Those who oppose horse-drawn carriages apparently never saw one that they liked.
The ban that has been proposed would phase out horse-drawn carriages and prohibit the use of horses with carriage rides by the end of 2023 – less than a year from now. It would supposedly establish a program to support workers in a transition to using electric carriages.
For evidence, McKee-Rodriguez has engaged with Marty Irby of Animal Wellness Action (see the earlier Cavalry Group message about Marty Irby’s current status). Irby is pushing for carriage horse bans in all major cities.
Animal Wellness Action was created in 2018 by Wayne Pacelle after he was forced to resign from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) due to allegations of sexual harassment.
Irby was quoted in a local article in December: “So what we want to see is these carriages actually replaced with electric carriages.”
No to electric carriages
It turns out that the horse-drawn carriages are very popular with tourists and people who frequent the heart of San Antonio.
Not only that, but the carriage drivers who would lose their jobs are not thrilled at the idea of being forced to give up their horses and suddenly take up driving electric carriages for tourists. Stephanie Garcia, with Yellow Rose and H.R.H. Carriage, manages 30 workers and 23 horses. In an interview she said that tight regulations ensure that the horses are treated well.
“They get better treatment than most humans,” said Garcia. “This (proposed ban) was dropped on our toes with no warning whatsoever.”
“We do get people from all over the world come and visit us. It’s locals too. Residents love to use us. Christmastime, especially, they like to bring their grandkids, their kids just to go out and see the lights,” Garcia explained. “The Alamo is a big attraction for San Antonio, but I would say we are one of the second attractions.”
After reading the proposal, Garcia said the reasons for the ban simply aren’t true.
“We’re highly regulated by the city, by Chapter 33 of the ordinance. Part of that is we’re not allowed to work when the temperature’s above 95,” she explained. “These horses are treated like royalty. My horses have a chiropractor, a dentist, they have specialist vets. They’re inspected three times a year … they are rotated out daily, so they go into a pasture every day.”
When asked her thoughts about replacing the horses with electric carriages, Garcia said it won’t provide the same magical experience customers want.
“Who’s gonna care for the horses at the end of the day? If this business isn’t here to pay for everything and to care for them like we are, there’s a good strong possibility these horses may have to be euthanized,” said Garcia.
Garcia said that she and her employees welcome the chance to talk to people about their horses and business. They take pride in their professionalism and high standards. Their horses are family and they treat them as such.
- What happens if the carriage ban is enacted?
- People who drive carriages and care for the horses lose jobs. Many of them will not transition to electric carriages.
- Instead of helping the environment, electric carriages, like other electric vehicles, come with their own set of problems.
- Vets, farriers, feed stores, and others who are dependent on working horses will lose business.
- San Antonio will lose some downtown tourism.
- Land currently used for stables and turn-out will be developed (more than likely the real reason people want to get rid of downtown horse-drawn carriages).
- The horses themselves, which are draft horse types, are not in demand as riding horses. They may face euthanasia since they won’t have jobs any longer.
- An important part of San Antonio’s history will be gone.
How you can help
Denise Gutierrez is running to unseat Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, the incumbent City Council Member who is pushing the carriage ban ordinance.
Denise Gutierrez is PRO horse-drawn carriage, PRO business, PRO preservation of America’s horse culture, PRO agriculture, PRO Rodeo, PRO Mexican Charreria and she is putting her neck on the line to save the horse-drawn carriages of San Antonio by running for city council and rallying hard to gain support for the horse-drawn carriage industry in San Antonio.
Denise Gutierrez is passionate about keeping the carriages and working to inform San Antonio citizens about the agenda behind replacing the horse carriages with electric vehicles. The Cavalry Group has endorsed Denise Guttierrez.
And, if you can, please donate to her campaign. CLICK HERE
The election for this City Council seat is May 6, 2023.