#JustSayNeigh

Earlier this month, I had the most eye-opening experience of participating in my very first rally against horse carriages with the Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates or the CCHA. Alongside the College of Charleston Vegan Club, I held up a cardboard sign reading, “Horses Don’t Belong in City Traffic,” and took a lap around downtown Charleston. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful protest, it would have been so nice to see more students come out to represent the College of Charleston. With this article, I am hoping to bring awareness about this pro-animal organization to CofC so that in the future, those with compassion for carriage horses will know just where to get involved!   

Pictured: Priscilla Vanartsdalen (author), Kate Liseo, Rachel Weidman

Photo courtesy of Kate Liseo

As a student at CofC or a resident of Charleston, it is not at all uncommon to see multiple horse-drawn carriages while out and about around the city. These carriages are typically pulled by one to two horses and are equipped with enough seats to hold anywhere from ten to fifteen passengers, sometimes more. The carriage rides are one of the most popular attractions among Charleston tourists they as they are known for their historic charm. However, with the city's high humidity rates and temperatures reaching up to 95 degrees during the summer months, it is no surprise that the treatment of these working animals is raising concerns. 

As someone new to living in Charleston, seeing these carriages around the city definitely came as a surprise. Instead of charming, to me, they appear out of place in the urban city environment. I feel sympathy for these seemingly overworked and exhausted animals and have quickly found out that many others feel the same way. Of course, when I came across a flyer on campus for the rally, I could not pass up the opportunity to show my support for an organization that is making an effort to speak for the voiceless.   

Not only did participating in this protest give me the chance to get off campus and get involved in the city, but it was also an educating and enlightening experience. Unlike many other horse carriage organizations, I learned that the CCHA is not for the banning of carriage rides completely. The organization acknowledges the economic impact that these tourist attractions have on the city, and they focus instead on fighting for the more humane treatment of carriage horses. After all, no popular tourist activity is worth the harm or endangerment of living creatures. 

The main concerns of the CCHA include horse welfare as well as public safety. They seek to improve the dangerous and unhealthy working conditions of these horses by asking for the lowering of the currently permitted maximum working temperatures, heaviest permitted loads, and the maximum number of working hours. However, the organization also serves to shed light on the dangers that these carriage rides threaten to the public. Shockingly, they have reported 55 horse carriage related incidents since February of 2016 on their website's incident tracker. It is clear that the current city regulations are not anywhere near sufficient for either the employee horses or the people of Charleston.   

If any student is interested in supporting the Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, they can find their website here to learn more about the mission of the organization and how they can help make a change. Also, students can stay informed about future rallies on the organization's Instagram @ccha_join and use the hashtag, "#justsayneigh," to show their support. I highly encourage anyone reading this to get involved in the plethora of organizations on and off-campus, whether or not they decide on joining the CCHA. It is the very best way to find one's passions and meet people who are interested in the same!