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Monday, July 15, 2024


Carriage Horse Likely Died from Blood Clot or Cardiac Arrest, Report Finds

Chantel Semanchik’s Facebook page
Ice, a horse owned by the Cape May Carriage Co., died June 27 while taking tourists on a tour of Cape May.

By Karen Knight

CAPE MAY – A Percheron gelding that collapsed and died suddenly June 27 while pulling a carriage of tourists most likely died from a blood clot or cardiac arrest, according to a necropsy report by the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center.

According to the report posted on owner Chantel Semanchik’s Facebook page, Ice, 18 years old and one of the horses of the Cape May Carriage Co., appeared to be “otherwise very healthy, and on our examination, no signs of abuse or neglect were found.

“The most likely differential diagnoses include a thromboembolic event (clot) or an acute cardiac arrhythmia,” said the report’s conclusion, issued following the postmortem exam conducted the day after his death.

Ice exhibited no other clinical signs prior to his collapse, the report said. The temperature was 70, with a cool breeze.

Ice liked to take a dip in the ocean. Photo Credit: Chantel Semanchik‘s Facebook page

“The gelding was in good body condition and was well-muscled,” the report said. “There were no scars or external lesions seen. No lesions found would explain acute collapse and death.”

In the wake of Ice’s death, the company has been barraged by accusations of animal cruelty and neglect, many posted online on social media.

“You’re all entitled to your opinion, but I would encourage you to learn the true meaning of animal cruelty and neglect,” Semanchik said in a statement issued by the company and posted on her Facebook page. “If you truly knew what it looks like you would immediately know that our horses are neither.”

Though animal rights advocates and others will claim carriage rides are “cruel and the cause of this tragedy, nothing could be further from the truth,” said the post. “Carriage rides are easy work for these big horses and had nothing to do with what happened to Ice.”

It was the first event of its kind in more than 40 years of carriage rides involving many dozens of carriage horses owned over a period of almost half a century, according to the Facebook posting.

“We know our horses well and knew this was something tragic,” the statement said. “We are truly sorry that this happened in town for everyone to witness.

“Ice had a wonderful life with us where he was well cared for and loved by many. Those horses may be ours, but they are really everyone’s. Everyone who supports them by taking rides year after year and making us part of their family tradition … or just coming by to admire their beauty. Thank you.”

The carriage company has been a part of the Cape May scene since 1983, giving tours highlighting the city’s sites and history. The company also offers private carriage tours and seasonal holiday lights tours. When not working, the horses live in a barn in West Cape May.

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at


Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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