Image Credit: Charleston Carriage Works
Part one of the series looking at the carriage industry and all players involved…
Just so there is no confusion here, let us start off by saying that as Charleston locals, we support the carriage industry. We are here to give you the facts. We are here to do all the research for you.
So as you may know, Big John is a carriage horse that works for Charleston Carriage Works. On April 19, 2017, Big John tripped and fell to the ground at 323 Meeting Street, in front of FIG Restaurant, at the start of his first tour of the day.
Tourists and locals alike took crowded around to snap photos and videos as the horse was seemingly calm and resting on the ground. Both tourism enforcement officers and Charleston Carriage Works employees worked to help remove the animals harness and get him back on his feet.
And so, naturally, organizations like Charleston Animal Society and Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates immediately pushed those videos and photos out to the public, telling the world that Big John “collapsed” from heat exhaustion and from being overworked.
As a result, both Charleston Carriage Works and the carriage industry as a whole received a new wave of backlash and harassment when in reality, a “collapse” from heat exhaustion or being overworked or whatever other lie you may have heard – was not the case at all.
By law, all horse carriage incidents must be reported immediately.
“City tourism enforcement officers are then dispatched to the scene to investigate the incident, work to ensure the horse’s well-being, and file an official report, which is then made available to the public,” according to Jack O’Toole, the Communications Director for the City of Charleston.
This case was no different. The very next day after the 11 minute incident, the city released a full report, which also included a report from the city equine manager, who O’Toole says is one of only two people in the county who has been trained as a certified animal abuse specialist who can detect incidents of abuse or mistreatment. On top of that, a report from the veterinarian on the scene was also included.
The report and the veterinary exam both showed Big John only worked 30 minutes that day, meaning he was not overworked that day, contrary to what you read in the headlines.
In the video above, you can see Big John minutes after his stumble walking around.
The reports also stated that Big John did not “collapse,” he “stumbled and fell” to the pavement. Which, might we add, happens from time to time…to all of us…
The Charleston Police also released a statement that same Wednesday that said Big John slipped while rounding the corner from Meeting Street onto Hassel Street. They were able to make this statement because of eye witness accounts from numerous officers on the scene.
According to the Dan Riccio, the Director of the City of Charleston Department of Livability and Tourism, Big John suffered minor scratches, and was cleared by veterans to continue working that very next day.
Want to learn more about Big John, his love for popsicles and his semi-retired life at Charleston Carriage Works? Click here.