New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently made political history by announcing that free universal pre-kindergarten will now be available to all four-year-old children - and to retired New York City carriage horses of any age.
Citing the cruel and inhumane treatment of Central Park carriage horses, Mayor de Blasio pledged during his mayoral campaign to abolish the horse-drawn carriage industry altogether. But the mayor's signature promise raised questions as to what would happen to the retired carriage horses. Some argued that the retired carriage horses, many of whom are in ill-health and illiterate and lack any marketable labor skills other than carriage-drawing, would end up on the public dole, at best, or, at worst, the victims of euthanasia. Mayor de Blasio's expanded pre-K program may be the solution.
Explained Mayor de Blasio, "Most of these horses have been working full-time for the city since they were colts. They never had the opportunity to pursue an education, and since they're largely illiterate, they need to start at square one. Pre-K is the perfect option."
Retired U.S. Army Colonel Edward Wheeler, who lives on New York's Upper West Side just blocks from Central Park, says he supports the mayor's initiative to expand pre-K to retired carriage horses. As he put it, "It's like an equine G.I. Bill. They deserve it."