New technology in place to monitor weight horses pull on carriages in Chas.


New technology is now in place to make sure the horses pulling carriages in downtown Charleston aren't taking on too much weight. The city has started using new tablets which check to see how many people should actually be on each carriage.

Tens of thousands of carriage tours are given each year in downtown Charleston and this new technology will help make sure the rules are being followed.

“We already had the ordinance adopted regulating the amount of combined weight, of the carriage and passengers, cannot be more than three times the weight of the horse,” said Daniel Riccio, the Director of the Department of Livability and Tourism for the City of Charleston.

This new technology allows the city to double check.

Riccio said they took Federal Aviation Administration regulations to see how they should measure the weight of each person.

“We used the same regulations as the FAA with air travel,” Riccio said. “The FAA has a mandate that all airlines follow, which are averages of passengers, not exact weights, but the averages of the males, females and children. They even break it down so far as winter weight and summer weight. Winter being the more weight of the passengers.”

But the city erred on the side of caution.

“All year round, we are going with the higher winter weight. The average is 195 pounds per person. We went maximum just to ensure the animal can pull all that weight. Even though you’re going to have women and children on there that weigh much less.”

How it works is when a horse carriage comes up to the gate, the driver yells out which horse is pulling the carriage, which carriage they are on and how many passengers there are. All of that info is put into the tablet - and it will show whether that carriage has the appropriate weight.

“If a carriage were to come up to the gate and have 17 people total with the driver - and it surely indicates on there that there can only be 12, then we have an issue,” Riccio said.

At this point in time – there have been no issues. Riccio added that any violation of the tourism ordinance would mean a maximum fine of $1,087 or a 30 day jail sentence.

“We feel confident with the information we are providing to the public is accurate and they can trust that we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing to make sure the animals are safe,” Riccio said.

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