Correcting the Record

Horse Carriage

You may have read an article in the Post and Courier from Thursday, September 28th about the Charleston Tourism Commission Subcommittee’s meeting the previous day to discuss a proposal for an amendment on weather conditions and temperatures with regards to horses returning to work.

There are several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in that article that we would like to clear up.

Let us start out by saying the companies that belong to Charleston C.A.R.E.S. are fully supportive of the amendment to which the committee unanimously agreed.

The City of Charleston mandates that after four consecutive ambient temperature readings of above 95° or a heat index reading above 110 taken (at least) 15 minutes apart, the carriage companies must remove their horses from the streets until the temperature decreases. We always abide by this rule and all rules instituted by the city.

The amendment involves a change in procedure for when the horses are allowed to return to work. It states that if the temperature is below 95° and/or the heat index is below 110 for 30 consecutive minutes, the city will allow the horses to return to work and continue tours.

In Thursday’s Post and Courier, reporter Dave Munday said:

"A study was conducted last year comparing Weatherbug temperature readings over four years with the carriage companies’ records of horses’ internal temperatures taken after each tour. It was decided that the horses become overheated when the Weatherbug temperature reaches 95 degrees or a heat index of 110."

The bolded text above is both false and a misrepresentation of the facts.

Two veterinarians, Dr. Sabrina Jacobs and Dr. Chris Ernst, conducted a study last year on animal body temperature as it relates to the ambient temperature and heat index. Let’s take a look at the facts:

The City of Charleston’s operating limit for animal body temp is 103°. The veterinarians (and the data provided by the Charleston Animal Society to the committee considering the study) stated that 104° was the top normal working temperature for horses and mules in general. This means that an animal is not considered overheated until its temperature is above 104°.  

At 98° and/or Heat Index over 125 the study showed that 0.35% of horses/mules had recorded temperatures of over 104°. This means that out of 10,000 individual readings, only 35 horses/mules were recorded at a temperature of over 104°.

At 95° or 110 Heat Index or below (the new system) that number dropped to .23% or 23 out of 10,000.  

The vets noted that the very small number of "overheated" animals could likely be explained by normal amounts of fever that one would expect in a population.  They also noted that the difference was probably statistically insignificant.  Contrary to what the Post and Courier would have you believe, in absolutely no way was it determined that animals overheat at 95°. 

Another way to look at is is the old system was 99.65% effective and the new one has improved that to 99.77%.  

We realize all of this may seem complicated, and it is. But facts are important no matter how complex they are. The members of Charleston C.A.R.E.S. believe it is critical for the news media and other groups in Charleston to stick to facts when discussing our industry and how we treat our horses.

Charleston CARES