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

Third time’s not a charm for Oak Bay thief

Police briefs: Repeat thefts, stolen scooter, walking sticks misplaced

Lawyer for Victoria homeless camp questions offer by Saanich Police

John Heaney says breaking up camp puts people at risk because it seperates them from support

Former employee at B.C.’s oldest bakery says staff got no notice of closure

Willie’s Bakery staffer didn’t receive any severance

Elderly man in hospital after struck by car in Oak Bay

The incident happened Monday evening on Cadboro Bay Road

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps calls for audit on Johnson Street Bridge project

The bridge took three years and $40 million more than initially expected

Musicians take note at Victoria music industry conference

Rifflandia Gathering brings together emerging artists and industry professionals

Public to comment on Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Saanich residents will have their say today about a new housing development… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Ban on plastic bags reflects new reality

The plastic bag ban Victoria introduced in July of this year is… Continue reading

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Cyclists finish North America trip to highlight Ukraine struggle

The 10,000 bike ride raised over $10,000 for victims of the war in Ukraine.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Most Read