This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The recent colic death of Jerry, the carriage horse, has brought on understandable emotional reactions from people not educated about horse health.
So far, I haven't seen a media interview with an equine veterinarian about the prevalence and difficulty of colic in horses. Any vet can tell you that colic is a common problem among even well-cared-for horses (and even among horses who are not doing any sort of work). There is no sure way to prevent or cure colic, and dozens of possible causes, but pulling a carriage around town isn't one of them.
It is reasonable to investigate whether Jerry was properly treated after he colicked; it is not reasonable to close down all carriage driving in Salt Lake City because of this incident. Like people, horses benefit from regular exercise; it improves their health and decreases the chance of colic. Horses who have work to do are much less likely to be neglected and more likely to be loved and cared for.
If the carriage businesses closed, most of the horses would probably be sold and may end up neglected. It would be a lose-lose situation for business owners and horses.
Ellen Nicholson Walker