Horse-Drawn Carriages Making a Comeback to Las Vegas?

They’re on the way out in NYC, but Las Vegas could see carriages back on their streets after a 29-year ban.

[Top image: Flickr, nikoretro]

It may seem a little strange that carriage rides may be approved again in Las Vegas just as New York City is making moves to get rid of its iconic Central Park rides. But Rev. Stephen Smith has been working since 2002 to get horse-drawn carriages on the historic streets of downtown Las Vegas, though the process has had some hiccups. In 2007, the city approved carriages only if they had seatbelts, which insurers rejected, and in 2012, Smith’s  business partner Robert Humpherys, who had experience creating carriage businesses in other cities, passed away.

So why bring back the carriages now? Rev. Smith has been a longtime city booster working to make downtown Las Vegas safer for residents and visitors, and the carriage business is  just one aspect of his efforts to make the downtown area more family-friendly, though the carriage company would stay away from high-traffic roads for safety.

As in New York City, the horses’ work would be subject to rules to ensure humane treatment:

  • No carriage rides would be allowed over 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Five people per carriage maximum
  • No whipping, except for safety reasons
  • Horses would work a maximum of six days per week, with one day of rest
  • Each working day, horses would have 10-minute breaks each hour, and a full hour of rest after four hours.

The rules would protect the horses from working in extreme desert summer temperatures, meaning carriage rides would most likely occur in Vegas’ milder months of October to May. At least in 2007, many downtown residents and businesses supported horse-drawn carriages with these parameters.

A vote on the exact routes is scheduled for April 16.

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