San Antonio Considers Halting Horse-Drawn Carriage Service

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February 19, 2024

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(SAN ANTONIO)—San Antonians are anticipating council members’ final decision on the fate of downtown horse-drawn carriages. Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated in early January that he believes an official vote will be made sometime in 2024.

There are currently five permitted carriage companies in the city’s downtown: Bluebonnet, Lollypop, LoneStar, Yellow Rose, and H. R. H. Though none of them are certain about their future, they will continue providing service to customers until further notice.

In November 2022, councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and councilwoman Phyllis Viagran submitted a proposal to prohibit the horse-drawn carriages by December 2023. Fourteen months later, their request has not yet been met.

The single-page proposal listed multiple reasons why the hoofed mammals and their wagons should be banned from downtown — mainly animal cruelty and slowed traffic.

“The Animal Welfare Institute acknowledges, ‘constant exposure to traffic noise, and pollution; the long hours of standing and walking on hard surfaces; the hard labor under sometimes extreme weather conditions; and lack of pasture access’ are detrimental to health outcomes of horses,” the proposal reads.

Animal rights advocate Mariah Smith, is amongst those who fully support the ban. As a San Antonio resident, she hoped that city council members would have been more prompt in their decision-making. According to Smith, both horses and locals are negatively impacted by these attractions, so there is no time to waste.

“I get it’s just horses,” Smith said. “But this is something that a lot of San Antonians are passionate about, and it’s not just for the animal’s sake, it’s for public safety’s sake.”

In downtown San Antonio, streets are narrow, pedestrians are plenty, and vehicles are piled into the streets traveling to various destinations. Each of these factors creates a sense of chaos and agonizing traffic in the area.

City council members will continue examining these complex issues, as they plan to finalize their decision in the coming months.

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