Featured Image Credit: Palmetto Carriage Works
In the ongoing debate about Charleston’s carriage horses, much has been said about whether or not the practice should be continued. While all of the criticisms of the horse-drawn carriage business have been countered with facts that prove the horses are well cared for, the City of Charleston is taking further steps to ensure their wellbeing. These steps come in the form of updated carriage horse regulations.
At a recent Tourism Commission meeting, Dan Riccio, the City of Charleston’s Director of Livability & Tourism, announced the city would be implementing changes for the carriage tour industry. The City of Charleston has hired a full-time Equine Manager to monitor carriage tour operations and enforce carriage horse regulations.
The Equine Manager, Shannon Tilman, will bring a strong background in the care of horses. Working with horses all her life, she has also been certified in a number of equine care specialties. These specialties include advanced knowledge of the equine anatomy and veterinary science.
In addition to the Equine Manager, the Tourism Commission Subcommittee also resolved the issue of carriage weights or encumbrance. The concern was that the carriages the horses are pulling are too heavy because the carriage loads aren’t weighed. The city mandates that the encumbrance must be less than three times the horse’s body weight. However, the method used to estimate weight by the carriage companies is the same method used by the US Coast Guard and the airline industry to measure passenger weight. Scales like those used for trucks were proposed, but the process used to estimate weight was found to be satisfactory and the carriage companies had the animals’ welfare in mind when it came to load size.
Another advancement in carriage horse regulations is that carriage tours are now digitally monitored and tracked. The new system allows officials to track weight, route, and passenger volume. These items were previously tracked by hand. The digital method will be more accurate and future enhancements could be made. The digital system was created internally by the City of Charleston IT Department.