The two-horse carriages are a popular and romantic way for tourists to explore central Vienna, especially during the summer months, and are as recognisably Viennese as the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater.
Lawmakers are set to amend the fiaker carriage law on Thursday, so that it places a greater emphasis on protecting the horses. Animal welfare councillor Ulli Sima (SPÖ) and environment spokesperson for the Greens Rüdiger Maresch said that it will ensure that no horse is made to work when the thermometer hits 35C.
Other measures which are intended to protect the horse’s welfare are also being introduced and include finishing an hour earlier (previously working hours for fiaker horses were from 10am to 9pm), having every other day off, and regular health and fitness check-ups to ensure the animals are fit enough to work.
Fiaker drivers must also be able to prove that their horses have been correctly trained and have the right temperament to be a working horse.
Last July, Salzburg's own Fiaker drivers suspended work for their horses when temperatures reached 35 degrees C (95 degrees F.)
The Vienna Tierschutzverein (animal welfare society) has praised the amendment, although fiaker drivers say that their business will suffer massively as a result of the stricter rules.
“For years, animal rights activists have been campaigning by spreading pseudo-scientific falsehoods against fiaker entrepreneurs. In this way they are discrediting an entire business sector which has been active in the city for hundreds of years, has a lot of experience with horses, and has significantly contributed to a positive worldview of Vienna,” says Martina Michelfeit, spokeswoman for fiaker drivers in the Vienna Economic Chamber.