LEARN owner discusses carriage ban movements, care of horses

By Gregory

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- The horse carriage industry is being scrutinized again following accidents in Charleston, Savannah, and New York City. Some call them inhumane and want them shut down, but a local woman who has rescued horses for more than 30 years has a very different view.

On Tuesday, a spooked carriage horse took off running through Market Street in downtown Charleston. It crashed into the market building.

Since the accident, many have taken to social media to weigh in on the care of those horses, but Elizabeth Steed says there's no need to worry about the carriage horses because they are built for that kind of work.

"These horses were bred to be work horses," said Steed, founder of LEARN Horse Rescue. "These aren't your mustangs or your wild horses that lived free on the range; these animals were bred to pull heavy loads."

Steed has rescued horses for more than 30 years. She even takes care of retired carriage horses. The horse lover says incidents like the one that happened on Tuesday are few and far between.

"I just feel like everything is so negative when anything happens and they don't look at all the positive things that these companies do for the economy. They do educational programs down at some of the companies for schools and that's a valuable resource," said Steed.

The incident in Charleston was one of a series of carriage mishaps. A horse broke loose in downtown Savannah recently and the mayor of New York is trying to ban horse carriage rides in New York City after another incident.

In Charleston, a Facebook page called 'Stop Carriage Rides In Charleston' has been created and it's already gaining momentum.

"We are concerned about carriage accidents and also how the horses are working in this urban setting," said Sara Swingle, who helped start the Facebook page.

Still, Steed says people can't let one accident shut down an entire industry.

"I think we need to focus on what we can do to make these companies and people co-exist. But no one wants to hear that," said Steed.

For now, the stables of horses will remain open as Charleston heads into its busy summer tourist season.