With effect from 1 January 2023, the steady sounds of clip-clopping hooves pulling creaking carriages will be absent from the streets in Prague.
The city said the coaches no longer fit in with the council’s vision of “quality tourism”. They are also a problem given the number of tourists in the city center, and the council raised the issue of animal welfare.
For years, animal rights activists have called the carriage-horse industry abusive and cruel but supporters have argued that the horses are treated humanely and the carriages are a romantic link to history, provide jobs and appeal to tourists.
Critics say the practice is cruel as horses can develop respiratory illnesses from exhaust fumes, and may suffer debilitating leg problems from trotting around on hard surfaces all day.
Public safety is also a serious concern. Wherever these rides are permitted, accidents occur, often resulting in property damage, serious injury to both horses and humans.
Horses startle easily and are extremely sensitive to loud and unexpected noises, which are common on busy city streets. A pneumatic drill or even a car horn can be enough to cause a horse to bolt.
Now that most of the tourists are gone, Prague city wants to seize the opportunity to reinvent itself as a destination for so more than just strip clubs and very cheap beer.
Along with other cities such as Budapest and Kraków, Prague wants to shift its image towards culture and gastronomy and draw more visitors who don’t want to just get bladdered in the centre of town for two days.