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When the mayor of New York City announced his plan to ban horse carriages, actor Liam Neeson spoke out in strong opposition to it.

“I’ve been walking on the streets of Central Park for two hours every day, five days a week for 20 years. I know some of the drivers. I’ve seen the joy that the tourists get from these carriage rides. These horses are well cared for,” Neeson said. “I’m here in support of the teamsters. I’m here in support of my brothers and sisters in the horse carriage industry. And a beautiful industry it is. It’s a connection with the past. It’s a connection with our history.”

Speaking to CBC radio, carriage horse driver Christina Hansen would be sorry to see the industry banned after over 150 years in the city. She says that those who oppose horse carriages on moral grounds are extremists who believe that owning, riding or driving a horse constitutes abuse, cruelty and torture. However, she says, simply riding a horse is not what the average person thinks of as an act of torture.

Hansen claims that in the past 30 years there have been only a few accidents in NYC resulting in minor injuries and only three horse fatalities due to collision with vehicles, demonstrating that it’s a safer form of transportation than taxis, private cars, bicycles and buses. Working on one of the busiest streets in the world for all to see, she says there is nothing to hide; the animals are cared for on duty and off: They’re well housed with 24-hour stablemen, are fed ample, healthy food and are receiving the exact kind of exercise they were physiologically designed for – walking many miles a day.

“This is an industry that’s been here since before Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration,” says Neeson. “The mayor wants to replace [carriage horses] with electric cars. That’s exactly what New York needs, more cars.”

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