Watch: Viral Horse Collapse Video Spurs Carriage Protest In Melbourne

A protest in Melbourne calling to scrap the city’s horse-drawn carriages took place in Melbourne today, a week after a confronting video showing a horse collapsed on the street made the rounds on social media. 

During the middle of Melbourne’s CBD, the horse pictured in this video collapsed to the ground. It was initially reported by a passer-by that this was due to heat exhaustion, but the industry has hit back and said the horse was bitten and fell over. Regardless of why this horse fell to the ground, it is unacceptable to have carriage horses in the city amongst pedestrians, cyclists, trams and cars. These horses can work up to 12 hours a day, and as we approach warmer weather, we have concerns for the horses standing on hot roads and carting passengers.If you are outraged that this industry is still allowed to operate in the CBD, please join Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses and Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages at our joint March For The Horses this Friday: you cannot make the demonstration, you can sign the petition which is being presented to City Of Melbourne on the day:

Posted by Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses on Sunday, 4 October 2015

The video shows a distressed and debilitated horse being helped by carriage operators – but it doesn’t show what caused the collapse. The Facebook user who originally posted the video apologised after the carriage operator claimed the horse was bitten by another, as opposed to collapsing due to being overworked. Some commenters questioned the circumstances of the original poster’s sudden change of heart. 
In any case, the footage has sparked fierce debate between those who appreciate the carriages’ ye-old-timey tourist charm… 
…and those who see them as nothing more than circus-like animal cruelty. 
Kristin Leigh is in the latter camp. The spokeswoman for animal rights group Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages claims “whether it was dehydration or not, if the horses were in a natural environment they wouldn’t be frustrated and biting each other.” 

Despite carriage operators claiming that the working horses work three-hour shifts and are kept in conditions you’d reasonably expect a horse to be kept in, Leigh says the horses hit the pavement for up to twelve hours at a time, and can suffer lameness and arthritis as a result. 
“We don’t know the answer, unfortunately – there is no tracking of the horses. You just never know.” 
After concerns were raised earlier this year, carriage operator Dean Crichton claimed  “we are a responsible group with a perfect safety record — we’ve had no injuries and deaths — just a couple of incidents in more than 30 years.” Still, working out how to reign in carriage operators has been a bureaucratic nightmare in Melbourne. VicRoads claim they have no say over the matter as the carriages don’t require registration or licensing; the council counters that if the state body has control over other forms of transport like pedi-bikes, they can bin the horse-drawn carriages too. 
Until then, Leigh says the carriages will continue to pose a serious safety risk to cyclists and pedestrians, describing Swanston St – where many of the carriages operate, and the site of today’s protest – as “like the Wild West.

Via The Herald Sun
Image via The Age