ST. CHARLES, MO (KPLR) – Wednesday night’s carriage horse drowning in St. Charles did not have to happen, according to business owner Greg Streeter.
Streeter, who owns St. Louis Carriage Company, said the responsibility for the horse’s death is solely in the hands of the carriage operator.
“The first thing I wanted to know: 1) Was anybody hurt? 2) Was anybody in the carriage? 3) Where’s my horse? I was thinking that this was all not real,” he said.
Streeter said no one was hurt, but the horse, 13-year-old Cash, ran off with his carriage after giving rides on Main Street. Streeter believes Cash mistook the Missouri River for an open field and by the time the horse learned it was the river, the carriage was already dragging him down.
“We went down there and everybody was telling me what happened and I kind of knew what happened,” Streeter said.
Streeter said he preaches an important safety tip so much that his employees get sick of it: to disconnect the carriage before removing the bridle. He said his operator messed up the sequence and Cash may have thought he was free to play.
“That’s the most dangerous thing,” Streeter said. “If you take the bridle off the horse and you’re still connected because the horse has a weapon behind him. Damage can be done and you can hurt the horse and that’s what happened.”
Streeter realizes this may bring more heat in a petition drive to 'Ban Horse Carriages in St. Louis.' It`s almost reached its goal of 55,000 supporters, who describe endangered horses across the country.
“I pride myself in being really good and even in the heat of all that has happened in the last couple years,” Streeter said.
A different horse of Streeter’s ran off in downtown St. Louis in 2014. It ran down Market and back to Streeter’s barn. He said it was a different situation where the horse still had its bridal, but was spooked by a truck.
Horse carriage companies are not currently regulated because of a court fight involving another horse carriage company. Streeter said they should be regulated and that he would prefer that for the industry.
At present, the St. Louis Taxi Cab Commission is supposed to regulate horse carriage companies, but it’s currently powerless in the current court battle. The commission even tried to order another company shut down, but the courts have put a hold on everything.