Photos reignites debate over St. Augustine horse-drawn carriages

Though we've learned it's not what it seems, it does have some asking if the horses are being treated properly.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Photos showing a horse on its side in downtown St. Augustine have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, reigniting the debate over horse-drawn carriages on the First Coast.

Julian Sandoval took the photos on the Bayfront Sunday around 9 p.m. and then uploaded them to Facebook.

“I was not talking about the owners, I was not talking about any animal abuse, I was just trying to get a conversation started because these horses don’t deserve to be out there like that,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he’s mostly concerned about the horses in the heat.

“I just have something against them in this type of weather,” he said. “In this Floridian heat.”

Sandoval acknowledged the photos were taken at night, when it was cooler outside, but said they served as a jumping off point for discussion over regulations regarding heat.

Currently, St. Augustine city ordinance prohibits horse-drawn carriages when the temperature reaches 95 degrees or the heat index reaches 105 degrees. To learn more about city regulations of horse-drawn carriages, click here.

“Right now it’s 80 degrees, I’m standing out here and I’m sweating, I can only imagine what it might be like for them,” Sandoval said.

Jennifer Cushion, owner of Country Carriages, confirmed the horses in the photographs are part of her business. She told First Coast News the horses are fine apart from a few scratches from the fall.

She said in an email to First Coast News the horses began working around 4 p.m. Sunday, had done three rides and were on the way home.

The statement reads:

“Spring tripped and threw Summer off balance which made her fall. We held them down until we could unhook them so they could get up safely. Our vet was called to check them out to be sure everything is ok. Contrary to popular belief we do not work our horses during the day through the hot times of the year. We typically come out to work about 4 or later depending on temps.”

A representative with the St. Augustine Finance Department, which regulates the carriages, said they are aware of the incident. They received a similar explanation from Cushion and are waiting for the full veterinarian report.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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