Horse-drawn carriages are a popular mode to Travel in tourist destinations and the city of Rome in Italy is no exception. However, the inhuman treatment meted out by some owners of these carriages has led to the animals collapsing on busy roads. The latest incident happened on the Via Dei Condotti. This is a busy shopping street and the horse apparently slipped on a manhole cover. Onlookers wanted the driver to take the animal to a vet, but he waited for it to get back on its feet and then continued with his tour.

The Guardian reports that leaders in Italy want to stop the exploitation of these animals. They raised their voices after this incident of a horse collapsing came to light. Rinaldo Sidoli, an activist, described it as animal abuse. He opened up about the way horses are treated in Rome and how he wants Mayor Virginia Raggi “to stop this unjustified exploitation of animals.” The weight of the carriage is around 1760 pounds (800 kg).

When the weight of the occupants gets added it becomes a substantial load. Therefore, on an uneven surface, the hooves might slip and the horse carriage might lose balance - giving rise to avoidable accidents.

Past instances of accidents and deaths

The horse-drawn carriages of Rome are also known as botticelle and are lucrative businesses for their owners. Tour operators usually charge $390 (€350) for the horse carriage to take a group of four people around important monuments in Rome over a two-hour period.

There are past instances of some of these horses dying. In 2008, a horse died when a car struck it down near the Tiber River. There were tourists in the carriage. Some months later, another died when the noise of a passing truck startled it. In 2012, there was yet another death. It was during summer and the driver was trying to force the reluctant animal back to work. Subsequently, a law was passed that imposed a ban on horse-drawn carriages from doing their rounds if the temperature exceeded 40C.

The Guardian provides some statistics. It seems there are about 80 horses and thirty-two people with licenses to drive these horse carriages.

Mayor Virginia Raggi has no plan to issue fresh licenses and drivers can opt for taxi permits. Rinaldo Sidoli, an activist said - “The sight of a horse falling to the ground left many tourists appalled.” In his opinion, scenes of this nature spoil the image of the city and the authorities must take suitable action.

Voices raised against ill-treatment of horses

According to Wanted in Rome, Mayor Virginia Raggi had promised to ban the outdated practice of horse carriages entirely.

That was in her election campaign three years ago. However, clashes continued between carriage drivers and animal rights' activists. The latter have described the streets of Rome as a "cruel" working environment for the animals. Many of them have been victims of the summer heat. Obviously, the administration must introduce suitable measures to ensure their safety.

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