BALLAD FOR THE CARRIAGE HORSE
Ballad for the Carriage Horse is a long-term documentary project about the carriage horses of New York City. Numbering more than 170,000 in the 19th century, these horses were the driving force of the developing metropolis, transporting goods, locals and tourists across the city's bustling streets. Today, less than two hundred carriage horses are the living testimony of this history. Under the pressure of animal rights organizations and the recurrent attempt of the mayor to shut down this business, one of New York's most iconic institutions is under threat.
For some carriage drivers, horses are way of life, a purpose, and Ariel Fintzi is one of them. Grew-up in kibbutz Netzer Sereni in the center of Israel, his relationship with horses started as soon as he could walk. He spent most of his days outside, worked at the cowshed and the fields, but his daily highlight was to work in the kibbutz's stable. When he joined the army, at 18, serving as a combat soldier and fighting in Lebanon, he brought the horses with him, and built a stable inside his base. After the army, he moved to New York and became the first Israeli carriage driver. After 38 years in the business, he's now the last Israeli driver. For Ariel, it is more than a way to pay bills. It's love, his biggest passion and a way to deal with traumas.
Although they are icons of New-York, very little is known about this controversial issue and the life of the horses and the drivers. The business is very diverse, as women and men, young and old, students and full-time drivers, are working together. The stables are more inspected than the city's homeless shelters and daycares, and laws prevent the horses from working if the weather is too cold or hot. When the horses reach the retirement age, they are moved to farms upstate, unlike racehorses – which are sold to the meat industry.