We are saddened to hear that the city Parks Department has temporarily shut the Howard Beach stables run by the Federation of Black Cowboys.
This was done even though the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it found no evidence of poor treatment in its stable inspections last year.
“The ASPCA has responded to several complaints at this location and in the instances to which we responded there was no cruelty found,” said ASPCA spokesman Bret Hopman.
Parks spokesman Phil Abramson said the agency took this action after “an alarming number of horse fatalities and health issues at the site.”
Not every horse belongs to the Black Cowboys. The stable has a rough board agreement with owners, meaning the federation provides space to horse owners responsible for oversight of their own horses.
“The fatalities and problems with the physical conditions of the facilities make it clear that this ‘rough board’ agreement can no longer work,” said Abramson.
We have been a fan of the Black Cowboys for more than a decade. These are people who take off their business suits at the end of the day and live out their childhood dreams.
They have given hundreds of inner-city kids the chance to ride and care for a horse, an opportunity they might never have had were it not for the Black Cowboys. Every summer they invite the community to take part in a Queens-style rodeo. It’s a fun learning experience.
We don’t know what went wrong which led to horses dying and neither does the Parks Department. At the times when we were there, the horses appeared well-cared for and the stables were clean.
We hope Parks will get to the bottom of this and that the Black Cowboys will soon be back in business.
Sick Days for All
Last week, the City Council gave its stamp of approval to legislation that would require companies with at least 20 employees to give full-time workers five compensated sick days a year.
We are sympathetic to the burden this may put on small business owners, but that burden is exaggerated.
We are more concerned that without sick pay sick people will go to work because they can’t afford not to.