KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Horses have been pulling carriages through the Country Club Plaza during the holidays for 30 years.
Last December, a horse became uncontrollable and raced through the streets, crashing the carriage in tow. Three people were injured in the crash and it is still under investigation.
"The angle that is being investigated currently, and it’s not finished, is that some outside force caused the horse to be spooked and took off," said Bobby McGee, Horseman with KC Carriages.
Animal Action Kansas City said that crash is a prime example of why the tradition needs to come to an end.
"We believe that Kansas City doesn't need to wait for another accident to happen to be ready to embrace a safe and humane alternative to horse carriage rides,” said Crystal Jones from Animal Action Kansas City.
The group also argues that the treatment of the animals is inhumane.
McGee said that’s not true. The horseman says the horses are treated very well.
"A horse can work no more than 6 hours in one day. Has to have breaks every two hours. Our horses only work four days a week,” said McGee. “She sees our veterinarians 4 times a year she sees a city veterinarian once a year. She sees the horse dentist twice a year."
As for the crash, he said it was an isolated incident.
The group still believes this is not the best environment for a horse, noting the horse involved in the crash was injured.
"Horses are 2,000-pound animals that can be startled by a variety of stimuli down on the plaza,” said Jones.
But McGee said that horse is actually doing fine.
"That horse retired and is at the ranch with all the rest of the horses in the old man pasture,” said McGee.
The group has gathered 20,000 signatures on a petition on Change.org. They hope this protest will garner more support to their cause.