By 1st January 2023, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, will shut down two horse-drawn carriage stands located in the Old Town Square and Stromovka Park, joining many world cities that have banned horse carriages or are gradually moving towards banning them.
In response to a citizens’ initiative, the City Council amended the market regulations concerning the carriages. The campaign Horse is Not a Machine run by the animal protection organisation Hlas zvířat (Voice of Animals) included a petition drawing attention to the unsuitable conditions that horses have to face in the city. It gathered almost 12,000 signatures.
But this is not a total ban. City Councilor Adam Zábranský said: “This is not a total ban on horse-drawn carriages in the city, but the abolition of two stations in public spaces. We are thus responding to the gradual change in the attitude of Czech society towards animal protection. After the ban on fur farms, caged hens, and the gradual end of training of wild animals in circuses, I see this as another logical step.”
In the last few years, we have seen several cities giving their backs to horse cruelty. In 2014, Salt Lake City Council banned horse-drawn carriage rides after an incident in which a horse collapsed and died. In 2017, the town of Breckenridge passed an ordinance banning horse-drawn carriage businesses on the town’s streets. In 2020, Chicago became the largest city in the U.S. to institute a ban on horse-drawn carriages. In the same year, the Canadian city of Montréal banned them too. In 2021 the Australian city of Melbourne decided to go for a ban in its central business district to begin in 2022. Other US towns and cities can be added to the list (Key West, Kenneth City, Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Treasure Island, Biloxi, and Camden).