Horse carriages

Carriage horses are constantly exposed to chaotic and stressful environments, and often pose a danger to public safety.

VHS is launching a new horse carriage campaign


A near-disastrous incident involving horse-drawn carriages in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2016 led to renewed calls for an end to the use of horse carriages in urban areas. The incident happened after a car horn spooked a pair of carriage horses, who ran off the road and across a bike path, hitting a park bench with the carriage before coming to a stop after approximately a hundred metres. In the midst of the situation, the driver fell out and frightened passengers jumped from the carriage. Thankfully, no one, including the horses, was reported injured, but still today the incident serves as a reminder of the dangers of operating horse carriages in unpredictable urban environments, something other municipalities are beginning to act on. In fact, January 1st of this year marked the end of horse-drawn carriages in Montreal.

In May 2018, one of Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages was bumped by a bus, causing two horses to slip and fall onto the street. Video of the incident showed the horses struggling to get up for over five minutes, with members of the public attempting to intervene and inadvertently putting themselves at risk. The incident made media headlines and led to questions about whether horse-drawn carriages and trolleys should continue to be permitted in increasingly busy and traffic-congested urban environments.

Incidents like this have occurred in cities around the world, leading to bans on horse-drawn carriages in a number of jurisdictions.  In January 2020, the City of Montreal banned horse-drawn carriage tours, citing heightened concern over animal welfare and a series of high-profile incidents.

VHS’s concerns are for the welfare of the horses, who are subjected to pulling carriages and trollies in urban environments that pose serious safety risks to both the animals and the public. The regular exposure to traffic, noise and pollution; the long hours of standing and walking on hard surfaces; and the hard labour under sometimes extreme weather conditions are not consistent with a horse guardian’s responsibility to provide high-quality, long-term care for horses.

Our campaign

VHS is concerned about the prevalence of horse carriages on the increasingly busy streets of Vancouver and around B.C., with carriage rides being offered at a number of local events throughout the year, in addition to regular operations in Stanley Park. VHS has written to business associations that have sponsored horse carriage rides at their events, highlighting concerns for the welfare and safety of the animals and the public who they share the road with. This year, we will be drawing public attention to the use of horses at these local events.

Currently, the horse-drawn trolleys in Stanley Park are at the centre of a controversy over vehicle access to the park.  On a temporary basis, the two-lane roadway is being shared by cyclists and motorists, with each allocated a lane. The horse-drawn trolley, which uses the motorist lane, is holding up traffic, causing drivers to use the cycle lane to unsafely pass the slow-moving trolley. This is a danger to cyclists, motorists and the horses. VHS, partnering with the UBC Animal Justice Club, will be urging the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver to address this dangerous situation by removing the trolleys from the roadway.

So long as horse carriages continue to operate in urban environments, it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” another incident like the one in Stanley Park occurs. Beyond the immediate risks, we’re also concerned about the overall well-being of horses in these settings. This is why you’ll be hearing more about our horse-drawn carriage campaign in 2020.

Subscribe to our ‘take action on advocacy campaigns’ mailing list to learn more about the upcoming campaign!

How you can help

Boycott horse carriage rides and tours, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Donate to VHS’ efforts to stop the exploitation of carriage horses and other animals.

Latest news

Stanley Park

Stanley Park’s horse-drawn trolley is a tragic accident waiting to happen. Let the Park Board know you support removing the trolley Sign the petition In 2016, horses pulling a tram full of tourists through Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park were spooked by traffic. The frightened animals bolted off the roadway, crossing a bike path and smashing…