CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An incident involving a horse carriage in downtown Charleston last week is raising safety concerns for passengers and traffic.
The incident happened April 19 during a Palmetto Carriage Works tour and caused a horse carriage to jackknife, officials with the City of Charleston Livability and Tourism Department said.
The Charleston Carriage Association for Responsible Equine Safety, or Charleston C.A.R.E.S, said the driving line for one of the mule teams caught on the yoke and broke, causing the horses to turn perpendicular to the carriage. The driver was quickly assisted by another driver, who replaced the line, and then continued the tour.
There were no injuries to the horses or the people on the carriage, and no damage to property or the carriage. City tourism officials say traffic was tied up for a little while.
It is the latest incident causing concern for local animal advocates like Ellen Harley, chair of the board for Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates. Harley says that just because there were no injuries now, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before, and won’t happen again. Harley says she’s been advocating for these horses for 22 years.
“They are not animals that ever should have been in traffic,” Harley said. “This is a 19th-century conveyance and it’s been used in the 21st century in a city that is growing by leaps and bounds.”
But the city says they have strict measures in place to care for the working animals, including a dedicated equine manager who makes sure those horses are fed properly, have water breaks, and time to rest. That position was created approximately four years ago, according to Tourism and Livability Director Dan Riccio. He says carriage tours have been happening in the city since the 1970s.
“We go above and beyond to make sure that these animals are protected,” Riccio said. “It’s a number one rule of thumb for us to make sure that happens.”
A statement from Charleston C.A.R.E.S reads, “The safety of our animals and passengers has always been Palmetto Carriage Works’ top priority and we will continue to create a safe and enjoyable experience for our guests.”
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