Caleche is the word used for the horse drawn carriage businesses in Canada. It is similar to the horse drawn carriages in Central Park. Though many of the horses are well cared for, there are some that are in question.
Diane Villeneuve witnessed a carriage horse fall and then become unresponsive on the streets of Old Montreal. Though we don’t know the cause of why the horse fell, some are believing it was over worked and not cared for properly. Villeneuve
“I saw the two front legs of the horse bend and she hit the ground headfirst,” Villeneuve explained. “The owner jumped out to help his horse, but the horse was unresponsive. No movement at all.”
Two men came to assist. They tried pulling the horse up by the bit. Villanueva wasn’t feeling comfortable anymore with what she was seeing. She then called 911. “After five minutes of this pulling and yelling, I decided to call 911. This horse was in bad shape. Honestly, I thought she would never get up,” Villeneuve explained.
The horse was named Cocotte. He had been unconscious for 10 minutes when she pulled out her phone and started filming the scene.
“The police arrived at the same moment that the horse finally got up,” Villeneuve recalled. “They told me there was nothing they could do except give an escort to the stable and make sure the horse would not work anymore that day.”
The video that Villenueve filmed has gone viral. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident. Morello Colalillo, a spokesperson for the Anti-Caleche Defense Coalition explained, “This summer has been the worst by far. There have been so many horses underweight, injured and showing signs of distress, that we are heartbroken and feel helpless. The horse drivers and owners would like us to believe that Cocotte fell asleep, but horses sleep standing, they don’t drop unconscious,” Colalillo explained. “The truth is that she is exhausted, like all the calèche horses. After working nine hours they return to a makeshift stable, where they are locked up in a dirty stall with no room to lie down. This is not the kind of life a horse deserves.”
Help Stop the Abuse
Two weeks previous to this incident, new regulations were passed that regulated the caliche industry. Colalillo believes there is still a lot of work to go. “We encourage people to go vote for the animals and to continue to help raise awareness by taking photos and videos and to file complaints to the police and to MAPAQ (Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food) when they witness abuse,” Colalillo encouraged, “Documenting and exposing is the most powerful tool we have, and it’s unfortunate that many incidents go undocumented.”