The horse diaper directive that left New York carriage drivers fuming

New York City wanted to see less manure on the ground at Central Park. But carriage operators didn't agree with how to make that happen.

Central Park carriage operators didn't want to deal with new rules for horses back in 1989

New York's horse-diaper debate

33 years ago
Duration 2:23
Horses wearing diapers? It was happening in New York in 1989. 2:23

Diapers on horses? Forget about it.

That was the view of carriage operators in New York City's Central Park, when they had become required to begin using diapers or hamper-like manure-catchers in 1989.

"I don't believe there's any sense whatsoever in it," said Jimmy Campbell, a veteran carriage driver.

On The National that summer, Terry Milewski reported that many other cities had rules in place that were similar to what New York was newly requiring of its carriage drivers.

"Almost every other city in the U.S. and Canada already requires a kind of hamper or manure-catcher rigged up between the carriage and the horse," Milewski told viewers on July 18, 1989.

"But in New York, nothing comes easy: The carriage drivers refuse to bow to meddling bureaucrats and ... joggers."

'We were here before they were'

Ginny Grassi said that some joggers may not like the horse manure in Central Park, but she pointed out the carriage drivers were there before the joggers were. (The National/CBC Archives)

Carriage driver Ginny Grassi said the city did have "a fastidious kind of jogger," who wore fancy shoes they didn't want to make contact with horse poop.

"But we were here before they were," she said.

Henry Stern, the city parks commissioner, said the new law made sense, as it was shovelling some of the responsibility for the clean-up back to the carriage operators.

Campbell was not convinced by the argument.

"A jackass politician," he said.

In any case, the people operating those carriages today must use a horse diaper, horse hamper, "or similar manure-catching device," according to the current rules and regulations for city parks.

Jimmy Campbell is seen steering his horse and carriage through New York's Central Park in the summer of 1989. (The National/CBC Archives)