Horse-drawn carriages not appropriate for Victoria, councillor says

Victoria city councillor Ben Isitt recently raised his objections to horse-drawn carriages transporting and entertaining tourists. He says horses belong on farms, not in cities.

Coun. Ben Isitt said at recent council meeting that horses belong on farms not in urban environments

The owner of Tally-ho Carriage Tours, Donna Friedlander, says horses only use about 20 per cent of their capacity transporting tourists.

The controversy surrounding horse drawn-carriages is rearing its head again in Victoria. 

At a recent council meeting, Coun. Ben Isitt reiterated his concerns about horses being used to transport and entertain tourists. 

"If we are serious about animal welfare, these animals need to be in rural areas on farms, not working in the dense urban environment under these conditions." Isitt said. 

"I don't think commercial horse-drawn carriage operations are an appropriate use of animals for commercial purposes and essentially for entertainment."

Isitt raised the issue during debate around a motion to support the use of an identification number for horses pulling tourists in carriages. 

Donna Friedlander is the owner of Tally-ho Carriage Tours in Victoria and says opposition to the horse-drawn carriage industry is often based on ideology rather than facts.

"When it comes to animal welfare, I think we do an amazing job," Friedlander said. 

"The horses that we use are all draft horses or heavy horses. They've been bred for over 300 years to do exactly this kind of work."

Friedlander says the horses actually benefit from walking on the pavement. 

"It helps develop stronger bones, ligaments and joints. And generally speaking, within the industry in Victoria, our horses are living up to 10 years longer than the heavy horse norm."

Friedlander adds that a team of veterinarians, farriers, and chiropractors makes sure the horses receive the best possible care. 

The motion to require the identification of horses passed during last week's council meeting.

Coun. Isitt did not attempt to alter the bylaw or propose a new motion to address his concerns.

This is not the first time concerns have been raised about the equine tourist attraction in B.C.'s capital. 

In 2016, a petition to ban horse-drawn carriages received more than 900 signatures.