The steady sounds of clip-clopping hooves pulling creaking carriages could be absent from the streets in Prague starting next year.
“Prague City Hall may prohibit the use of horse-drawn carriages in the city center,” says Councillor Jiří Pospíšil from TOP 09.
According to Pospíšil, “horses are forced to toil in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. They may develop respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they can suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces.”
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.
Prague 7’s mayor Jan Čižinský supports the idea: “Horses have been seriously hurt and there have also been a few incidents in which carriages have been hit by impatient or careless drivers.”
Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib fears that “if we act quickly, entrepreneurs can sell horses that have become unnecessary to a slaughterhouse. Therefore, we are considering the option of a gradual ban and drivers will no longer be able to buy new animals to replace the old ones”.