A routine discussion of updates to a city ordinance regulating horse-drawn vehicles turned into a platform for a familiar group of protesters to push for an outright ban of the practice at a Frederick Board of Aldermen workshop on Wednesday.

Holding signs with slogans such as “Get the Horses Out of Traffic” and “Horse Drawn Cruelty” with accompanying graphic images, the group of about a dozen animal rights activists hailing from across Frederick and the Maryland and Virginia region voiced a litany of concerns in the public meeting.

For years, the city has contracted with providers to offer horse-drawn carriage rides downtown in November and December. Donnie Lambert and his daughter Jessica, a veterinarian, have held the contract for the past several years, and are set to begin the rides in a few weeks.

In anticipation of the start of the season, Assistant City Attorney Rachel Depo revisited the city’s ordinance regulating horse-drawn vehicles and suggested updates and clarifications to the language, which she said has not been changed since the mid-1990s.

The proposed amendments include specifying that the police chief, or designated representative, is charged with administering the ordinance, and establishing more detailed provisions for license suspensions or revocations.

After a short discussion of the proposed changes, which the aldermen were primarily on board with, Mayor Michael O’Connor opened the discussion to public comment.

Frederick resident Stacy Boyer led the charge, saying that the meeting attendees also protested with them on the downtown streets last year during the carriage rides. She said the protests stem from concerns about traffic and public safety, inhumane conditions for the horses, and the impossibility of adequate enforcement of the law.

“Common sense tells us that horses should be in pastures and not overloaded by heavy carriages while being forced to compete with cars, trucks and motorcycles on the road,” Boyer said.

She added that loud noises spook horses and expressed concerns that they are overworked and are not given access to water during their shifts, the same concerns she expressed last year in the protests.

She pushed for city officials to introduce a legislative change to ban the carriage rides as other cities have done, and warned of negative repercussions if they fail to do so.

“Will Frederick wait for an accident to happen that injures, maims, or kills pedestrians or a horse because they refuse to acknowledge that horses do not belong in carriages?”

Several other of the attendees at Wednesday’s workshop, most of whom were not city residents, shared similar concerns and urged the aldermen to consider a ban of the practice.

Michael Boyer, Stacy’s husband, said after the meeting that he and the rest of the group will be out protesting in full force this year when the rides begin. He also reiterated concerns he expressed at the workshop about what he sees as an archaic practice.

“It’s just so primitive,” he said.

The Lamberts have said they rotate the shifts for the carriage rides between their four Percheron draft horses and two Belgian draft mules. They denied any unfair or inhumane treatment of the animals, which are bred for pulling, work about 12 hours a weekend two months out of the year and spend the rest of their days as family pets.

In the workshop, Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak asked the group members how many were city residents. Four raised their hands. She continued by explaining that she is most concerned with the desires of city residents as she considers any future action.

“I want to hear from city residents and a number of residents from Frederick are interested in possibly banning this altogether,” she said. “I understand and I would like to do a little more research about how it’s done in other places. It’s certainly not something I would like to go forward with today.”

Alderwoman Kelly Russell said she was on the police force when the ordinance regulating the carriages was adopted years ago. She said that since the ordinance was adopted, no issues or violations have been reported. And while she said she is not ready to support an outright ban of the practice, she is also willing to look into it.

O’Connor said that he is not sure of the exact process to ban the practice, but he believes it would have to come from an aldermanic request and go to staff members for research. At this time, he pointed out that all he has heard is that two aldermen are willing to look at it sometime in the future, but not now.

As far as the protesters, he said they have a right to voice their concerns as long as they remain peaceful.

The proposal to update the language is set for a public hearing and a vote in the coming weeks. O’Connor told the attendees at Wednesday’s workshop that they will have another chance to voice their concerns at that meeting.

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

(35) comments


The protestors should be euthanized, put down,


If you're going to protest anything, protest the recent requirement to bag leaves. The signs should say: "Bring back the leaf sucker!"


Whack biscuits! What fun it is to use that saying. But seriously, the most sensible comment reminded us that one of the owners is a veterinarian. Do these folks really suggest they know more about a horse's welfare then a person who dedicated years of intensive schooling concentrating on animal health and welfare.. I remember Daryll Putman when he first started the downtown carriage rides. I do not believe he did it for the money as i am sure a veterinarian wouldn't need this part time money. Why can't these folks see the joy in a young child's face as they ride in the carriage.




The horses/mules are bigger than the wagon with air-inflated tires or any carriage they may pull!


These people are lame. They should be using their time and talents to advocate for animals who are truly distressed, abused, and/or neglected.


I do agrees with this:

“Horses do not belong IN carriages”

That would be funny to see, though....

Comment deleted.

Coming from a guy who think illegal immigrants are taking our resources by attending school, but he whole heartedly supports that Jefferson bridge to nowhere


Poor, poor Michael Boyer...wonder what it's like to live with someone so removed from reality? Holy crap...a horse pulling a buggy...sounds like a Westboro Baptist Church member to me...Stacey...been to Topeka, Kansas lately?


As a lifelong animal lover, and horse owner, much as I appreciate people being concerned for the welfare of animals, this is not one of those times where it is necessary or appropriate. Those horses are well cared for and not doing any work that is beyond their capabilities. Asking them to work a few hours a week for just 2 months out of the year is not asking much. These same animals work 6-7 days a week, all day long, for Amish communities. Where are the protesters for that? Let people enjoy the horse-drawn carriage rides at the holidays. The horses are trained and bred to do what they do. As the owner of a Belgian draft who drives and rides AND just came to me from the Amish, I can tell you that this horse is as kind and cared for as they come. Perhaps if the protesters did more research into the reality of a situation before throwing up a sign, we would have a better community.


The FLAKES are at it again...no end to their nonsense


Again with these PeTA whiners? These horses receive better care than a lot of people! One of their owners is a veterinarian. Percherons and Belgians are bred as draft horses. They pull plows through the earth and wagons to transport people and goods. One of these horses can handle this task, but their owners use a team of two. I will take PeTA seriously when they close their one-way shelter in VA Beach. That's right folks, all strays that they collect are killed rather than adopted into a forever home! Shame on them, and the Boyers. I wish I knew about this meeting earlier so I could have supported the Lamberts.


To add to the above, I hope to be the first in line for a ride when they begin!


yup, they are. can we throw saddles on you and jursey?


I don't know why you would want to do that Sam, but if that's what you're into, to each his own. As for the horses, you have no idea about them. I have my own and they receive great care and shelter. These carriage horses receive excellent care, so what's your beef? Are you another PeTA whiner that supports killing strays? I adopt them, and support Days End. You?


No whining. A realist. And actually, I do actively support days end. Stick that feather in your cap.


ps - if i had the land, i would certainly adopt horses. they would be great company to my menagerie of other adopted/neglected animals. obviously you are very proud of yourself. happy for you.


Thanks. But let's get back to PeTA. Are you a member or supporter? If so, tell that vacuous Ingrid Newkirk Gabriel says hi. Do you support her position that no animals should be kept as pets? Or that stray dogs and cats should be destroyed rather than finding them a forever home? They're hypocrites!


The polls have closed and its 10 to 0!! next time when the pavement stompers want to have a rally please advertise the date FNP. People on the horses side of things can arrive with unhatched chickens and voice our opinion[wink]


What is the city's take from their contract with the Lamberts? Mayor Mike, Alderpeople, anyone?


Sounds like an opportunity for twelve humans dressed like elves.


Lets protest. Lets show we are nothing but spoiled brats! Warned of negative repercussions ? Isn't that a threat against the government? Protest if they don't do what you want in large number when the rides start, that will scare the horses just as much if not more than traffic! Cant we act like adults and find a happy medium for everyone? This world has gone to crap! What happened to looking out for each other?
All I see and hear is if its not what you agree with, lets protest ! This is America ! You can have a different opinion, you can have a different god, doesn't matter what color you are. Good people help one another !


Did anyone ask the horses how they feel about all this?


They don't mind at all! Belgians ablnd Percherons were bred to be draft animals, plowing fields and pulling carts. One of these horses could easily pull their wagon, but they use a two-horse team.


and you communicate with them how? some special language only you and horses share?


Yep, as a horse owner I know how my animals feel. You don't have animals do you.


Samatha clearly has not been around horses, nor knows anyone with horses


actually kelly, unless you are an equine expert, i do know more than you. any other brilliant comments?


Samantha: Well, that is profound. And how exactly do the protesters know the horses are miserable and in distress? Please do not ever volunteer to debate, because you shoot yourself in the foot.[huh]


Agreed Scott. Neither Samantha nor the protesters know what the horses are feeling or if they are in any discomfort whatsoever. Those carriages are fairly light, even when fully loaded. All they need to do is some simple math to figure out how much energy is needed to pull the wagon. Hint: a man can do it fairly easily. They know nothing about horses, especially big draft horses.


"Common sense tells us that ..." hmmmm, I swear I've heard this before.

Crusty Frederick Man 64

Sure hope none of these protesters find out about Budweiser Beer if they do the Clydesdales will be in jeopardy.


Take your stupid protest up to Lancaster, PA.


Aldermen, When you review the regulations on horses and carriages, please stipulate that protestors MUST be on the sidewalk and quiet, since they already told you that "loud noises spook horses" apparently their noisy protests are trying to do exactly that- cause the accident that they are warning you might happen. These people are ignorant of working horses. They are uneducated, projecting their miserable lives onto the horses who do not share their misery. Good move to ask how many people were local. There is a worldwide movement to remove horses, indeed, all animals, from people's lives. Ask yourself Why?


They are HORSES!!! another depth into HISTORY[smile]

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