Carriage horse involved in high-profile Manhattan crash is enjoying early retirement in Mass.





After his frightening mishap in the Big City, Arthur is now enjoying an early retirement in Western Massachusetts.

The 10-year-old Percheron horse, who made national headlines earlier this month after he was involved in a carriage crash in Manhattan that sent three people to the hospital and damaged several vehicles, was whisked away by employees of an animal sanctuary in Palmer last week and will live on a farm until he’s eventually adopted.

“He is just trying to make friends right now,” said Pamela Rickenbach, president and founder of Blue Star Equiculture, which took in the horse. “Ideally, he’ll be going to a quiet home where he can settle in with a family.”

Arthur was working Sunday, Feb. 4, when he was spooked by a pedestrian who reportedly opened and closed an umbrella while passing by the animal’s face.

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The operator of the carriage lost control, according to a New York City Police Department spokesman. Arthur took off, traveling “a short distance,” before he struck several cars, cramming the carriage between them.

Three passengers riding in the carriage were sent to an area hospital in stable condition, police said.

The incident — the second carriage-related accident in New York City in as many months — reignited a call by animal activists to reform the horse-drawn carriage industry to make it safer for the animals. Following the crash, members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, and others organized protests to free Arthur and save the horse from “an unknown fate.”

Amid the uproar, Blue Star Equiculture swooped in with a horse trailer and transported Arthur to Massachusetts. Rickenbach said the rescue efforts were at times tense.

“The radical animal rights folks consider us to be part of the problem because we are advocates for working horses,” she said. “We had to slip in there and slip out. We just had to go down and get him. We decided to do it right when they were staging the rally.”

Arthur, who had only been on the job for three weeks in the city, is now getting acclimated to his new environment at the draft horse sanctuary in Palmer, where there are around 25 other horses.

“He’s on a farm; he was living in a city,” Rickenbach said. “So he is a little bit starstruck now. He’s been through a lot — a lot of change.”

She said the organization is feeling out Arthur’s personality before deciding whether he should be adopted out. However, Blue Star has already received inquiries from people interested in Arthur, largely because of his time in the limelight following the high-profile crash.

Arthur, for his part, doesn’t care that he’s a celebrity.

“He is doing great and has made a couple of friends already,” Rickenbach said.

Steve Annear can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.