at the very least
Require proof of liability insurance and validate it. This is pretty self explanatory.
Rules of the road.
Make sure street carriages are well lit, obey the rules of the road, and have a slow moving vehicle sign clearly visible. Horse drawn carriages should be operated with the same level of caution as any other slow moving vehicle. Carriages should always avoid areas with blind turns and/or blind hills.
Do not tolerate unattended horses, or passengers being loaded without a driver seated.
Every bit as important as obeying the rules of the road is making sure the carriage operators in your city or town abide by humane operating standards.
Most cities around the country with well written horse drawn carriage ordinances require that horses have access to water at regular intervals, are worked only at a walk unless getting through a traffic light or intersection, wear either synthetic or steel horse shoes to protect the hooves, and know to rest horses when needed to prevent excessive sweating and/or labored breathing.
We have resources available that are easy to read and understand for even a person who knows very little about horses if you should need clarification on any issue concerning humane carriage operating.
What you really should know before agreeing to allow a horse drawn carriage service to share your streets with pedestrians and vehicular traffic, is are they an experienced commercial horse drawn carriage service? Can they verify that experience? Can they pass a drug and background check?
Its always a good idea to have a potential carriage service show that they have passed through an industry apprenticeship as well as carriage driving competency testing. This testing is provided by several entities.
The B.E.S.T. program offers testing tailored to commercial carriage operations, and the CAA Carriage Association of America while not tailored directly to commercial driving does have a comprehensive equine driving testing program.
While we would all agree that having ground rules, obeying traffic laws, and being dedicated to safety protocol are not debatable subjects, other issues are.
Mostly weather related some cities have written ordinances that interfere with a carriage companies ability to operate at a reasonable level. Except in very rare cases horses do quite well in types of weather extremes. As outside animals they are well acclimated to their areas weather. Far tougher than a human the very fact that a person is driving the carriage offers a built in safety net as weather extremes run people inside long before it becomes and issue for a healthy carriage horse.
Stay open minded if the carriage company in your municipality takes issue with an ordinance you have put in place in good faith, but ill advised by non-horsemen.
We have B.E.S.T. founders from all over the US that are happy to guide you to the advice you seek to ensure a happy and well received carriage service in your area.
An awful lot of people do not grasp the huge difference between animal rights and animal welfare.
Animal rights groups and individuals are extremists that do not believe that people should own pets, eat meat, wear leather or fur, visit zoos or aquariums, have service, rescue, or police animals and you guessed it, ride a horse or take a carriage ride. They typically make a lot of noise and objections and horse drawn carriage is a favorite target.
If your municipality is dealing with negative pressure from animal rights people or groups we are happy to assist you with our educational program that clearly spells out the difference between animal rights and animal welfare advocates.
We here at B.E.S.T. are here with speakers, clinics, and printable brochures available. Just ask!
Occasionally you will hear a number of carriage companies sharing the same city streets come together to complain about a bad operator in the area.
Listen! If several are all saying the same thing about the same operator/company do not automatically disregard it as competitive frictions.
We encourage you to look into these disputes and get specifics about the complaints. If it turns out the issues are legitimate, we advise there be ticketed offenses for serious infractions. i.e. walking away from a horse still attached to a carriage, loading passengers without the driver seated, not obeying traffic laws, being out after dark without lights on the carriage, and any other obvious infractions.
Police should be encouraged to write tickets for any sort of public endangerment and poorly executed carriage service should be no exception.