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Are there regulations regarding the conditions under which downtown carriage horses work?

Tom Grady

John Pucci, owner-operator of Horsedrawn Tours Wilmington, NC, said, “If we feel as though it’s a situation where it’s too hot for the horses, we shut down.”

Pucci described his business as “a little different than most carriage operations. We have fresh water given to the horses continuously. Before they go out, we always give them a fresh bucket of water if they’d like it.”

He said a shade umbrella is also positioned for the horses. Pucci also said horses are not ones to avoid the sun.

“The ones that are out in the pasture, the hottest days they’re not standing in the shade in the barn, they’re out in the middle of pasture,” he said, “in the sun.”

Jean McNeil, animal control services manager at the New Hanover County Animal Shelter, said to her recollection, members of her staff have checked in on the horses on occasion.

“I think the horses have been acclimated to various degrees of temperature,” McNeil said. “They have water available to them.

“Our understanding is that they trade it off. It’s not just the same horse all the time.”

McNeil said any call concerning a horse would be handled under the general guidelines of what constitutes or would be considered animal cruelty. There are no specific county regulations for horses, beyond the care of any other domestic animal.

The horse’s natural body cooling system is much like that of humans, in that the body sweats through pores in the skin, which leads to evaporational cooling. But horses can experience heat stroke if conditions become too severe.

“We’ve been doing this for 23 years in Wilmington and we’ve never had a health issue with the horses,” Pucci said. “We’re really, really cautious about our horses. We shut down quite a bit.

“The horses’ health is our main concern.”

And what about the cold weather? How do horses cope during Wilmington winters?

“They do fine,” Pucci said. “They grow a little bit more hair. They grow a fur coat.”

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One Response to “ Are there regulations regarding the conditions under which downtown carriage horses work?”

  1. On August 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm Deb wrote:

    Take a carriage tour and you will not only learn about Wilmington history but you will learn about the horses, where they came from and how they are cared for.

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