A horse-drawn carriage is seen in Victoria. Victoria Carriage owners say their horses are bred to pull weight and the recent accident was simply the result of a “perfect storm” between a trolley and a tour bus. (Canadian Press)

Horse-drawn carriage, trolley tour company facing backlash over Ogden Point incident

Accident was the result of a ‘perfect storm’ says Victoria Carriage Tours boss

Horse carriage companies in downtown Victoria are facing a little more heat than the usual summer sun this week.

A video surfaced on Facebook on Monday of two carriage horses laying on their side near the entrance to Ogden Point off Dallas Road. The video, posted to the page of the Victoria Horse Alliance, an organization seeking to ban horse-drawn carriages in Victoria, shows the animals having a difficult time standing back up.

“In the video you have bystanders in the situation who could have been injured,” Alliance founder Jordan Reichert told the News on Wednesday. “The carriage operators clearly didn’t have control of the situation.”

The post blamed operators for “a clear lack of professionalism,” and implored the City of Victoria to stop supporting an “inhumane and corrupt industry.”

Tom Walker, general manager of Victoria Carriage Tours, which owns the horses in question, said the only reason they had a difficult time getting up was because they were still harnessed together.

“The two horses were tied together, impeding their ability to get up,” he said. “When we took them off harness, they stood up immediately, unharmed and were very calm before walking to staging area. We called in the vets and they were given a clean label of health.”

Walker reported that many people commended his team afterward for remaining calm and working fast.

He said the situation was caused by some tight space between the trolley and a tour bus. At one point, he explained, the trolley’s electrical box at the rear got caught on the fender of the bus. “The horses stepped back to move around and when the trolley touched the bus it relieved them of some weight, so when they moved forward they started to slip.”

One horse slipped, and because they were tied together they both fell down.

Reichert said the incident is an example of a larger problem.

“People say ‘it’s just an accident’,” he said. “But we don’t really say that with vulnerable animals, when we’re putting them in that situation where their safety is compromised.”

RELATED: B.C. city considers tighter reins on horse-drawn carriage tours

The Alliance argued that carriage horses are often overburdened, causing them to slip.

But Walker said this isn’t true and certainly wasn’t the case at Ogden Point.

“It was just a perfect storm with the bus, which I’m not trying to blame,” he said.

The horses Victoria Carriage Tours uses – draft breeds that include Clydesdales, Belgians and Percherons – are bred to work and pull this kind of weight, Walker added. He said many breeds would be completely unsuitable for the task, but their fleet of horses are strong enough to pull a carriage on their own, or a trolley in a team of two.

“Our horses are really bred to do what they’re doing, they love what they’re doing, they like coming into town, they like that social interaction,” Walker said. “If we didn’t bring them downtown it would be just like solitary confinement for a person.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Our Place Therapeutic Recovery Community turns into a ‘place of healing’

500 volunteers, 120 businesses worked to transform View Royal community

A party for 11 pups and their adoptive families in Beckwith Park in Saanich

The coonhound siblings reunited at a barbeque on Saturday

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Witness the passion and fire of flamenco in Victoria this July

Seventh annual Victoria Flamenco Festival features free and ticketed performances downtown

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read