To see the image of Charlie — the white carriage horse who dropped dead on 54th Street after weeks of choking on taxi exhaust while transporting Midwesterners to various locations around a park they were incapable of maneuvering through the use of their own, atrophied jelly-legs — was to have your heart break. But the Horse and Carriage Association assured everyone it was just a random death. Nothing to see here, folks! Just a dead horse collapsed over a manhole cover covered in a blue tarp: "Our horses are taken care of," they assured us. Well, the necropsy results, performed by the ASPCA, are in — and Charlie was a very sick horse.

Charlie, who was remembered in a candlelight vigil on Friday, was found to have a "pronounced, chronic ulceration of the stomach." The cause of death is still undetermined, but that condition would have meant almost certainly that Charlie was in severe pain at the time of his death.

"We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies," said Dr. Pamela Corey, director of equine veterinary services for the ASPCA's humane law enforcement department. "And these particular health issues can be difficult to diagnose because draft horses are by nature a stoic breed, not displaying signs of pain until they are very severe."

That 15-year-old Charlie was relatively new to the carriage horse game, having been moved a few months prior from an Amish farm, does not concern Mayor Bloomberg, who defended the practice, saying, "Most of them wouldn't have been alive if they didn't have a job."

Yeah, well, maybe being alive isn't always the greatest option for a horse in constant and severe pain. On the plus side, the Mayor can always recycle that quote for pedicab drivers. [, Photo via Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages]