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Future of horse-drawn carriages uncertain after accident on plaza injures 3 people and horse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some are concerned about the safety of riding in horse-drawn carriages on the Country Club Plaza after three people and a horse suffered injuries Saturday night.

The injuries of those passengers are considered non-life threatening. The horse also suffered serious injuries.

The rides are one of the plaza's most popular attractions.

"I love the carriage rides. I think they are so cute," said Camaryn Blumears, a visitor from Oklahoma. "They just make me happy, seeing the horses and stuff."

Disappointed visitors didn't get to see horse-drawn carriages Sunday during the height of the holiday season.

In a recorded message, Kansas City Carriages said it was "closed for a family emergency."

The cancellation comes after emergency crews rushed two carriage passengers to the hospital Saturday night. Police said the carriage driver was thrown from his perch after a spooked horse crashed the buggy into a wall near Ward Parkway and Broadway.

"I never like to see anything, humans or creatures, getting hurt for any reason," said Andy Nelson of Lee's Summit, Mo. "It's not necessary."

Witnesses reported hearing a big crash, and say it was very scary to see a horse galloping through the plaza.

Police say none of the injuries are considered life threatening. But the crash is prompting some to reconsider whether horse drawn vehicles are appropriate in a congested urban environment, alongside motorized traffic.

"Normally, no one is going to get hurt," said Denise Zimny of Columbia, Mo. "I think people can decide on their own if they are going to take that risk."

It's not known yet what spooked the horse in Saturday's incident.

But this is not the first time a carriage has crashed on the plaza. A similar incident in 2003 caused injuries and left some people shaken up.

A petition circulated to ban the carriages in 2013, but efforts fell short.

In St. Louis, officials halted a downtown carriage service earlier this year after allegations of unlicensed drivers and endangered animals.

A Change.org petition circulating online requests Mayor Sly James and other city leaders to ban horse-drawn carriages in Kansas City, saying the busy city traffic creates a dangerous hazard to horses and riders.

FOX 4 initially received reports from police that the horse was euthanized. Police later updated their report to confirm that the horse is still alive.