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Victoria carriage operator blames equipment malfunction for spooked horse

‘Disturbing’ horse carriage incident in Victoria week after lease renewed
An animal rights advocacy group is blaming the City of Victoria for inaction after a carriage driver lost control of a horse in James Bay, forcing the passengers to jump out on Sunday, April 14. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria animal rights advocates are blaming the City of Victoria for its inaction on issues with the local horse carriage industry after a horse was spooked in James Bay.

According to the Victoria Horse Alliance, in the morning of Sunday, April 14, eye-witnesses reported seeing a carriage horse, carrying a driver and two passengers, begin running “fearfully” in circles around the intersection of Superior and Menzies Streets.

The driver allegedly jumped from the carriage in an attempt to control the horse as the horse began bucking through the intersection, and the passengers eventually jumped out as well before the the horse broke free of the carriage and collapsed onto the concrete after becoming entangled in its reigns.

“While still bucking, the horse began moving towards my stopped vehicle and I became concerned that the horse was going to collide with my car. Concerned for the safety of both myself and the horse, I reversed my vehicle,” witnesses Lisa Lee and Logan Laird said in a news release from Victoria Horse Alliance. “The scene was extremely distressing. Amidst the chaos, a bystander, seemingly unrelated to the carriage tour intervened. He approached the horse, grabbed the reins, and guided it to the side of the intersection. This was an extremely disturbing experience for both myself and passenger.”

The carriage company that was involved, Tally-Ho, posted on Facebook after the incident that the horse, Maggie, didn’t appreciate an equipment malfunction and in an attempt to shake it off, she slipped and fell, then quickly got back to her feet.

“Her driver immediately got her unharnessed and unhooked; and assessed her well being. Maggie is totally fine, and as per our safety protocols, is back at the farm,” noted the Facebook post. “Our beautiful draft horses are live, thinking animals who make their own choices and we simply follow their lead. This means that not every day goes to plan. When things go awry, as they can, our team is trained to manage unforeseen situations.”

On April 4th, council voted 5-4 in favour of renewing the carriage lease agreement to operate at Menzies and Belleville for six more years.

“There is no excuse for the apathy demonstrated by council when you have vulnerable animals being exploited for their labour in inhumane conditions. It must end now,” said Victoria Horse Alliance founder Jordan Reichert.

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