An animal rights organization is fighting to have the century-long tradition of horse-drawn carriages banned from the streets of Victoria, B.C.

The Victoria Horse Alliance is campaigning to end the practice it says exploits the horses.

"From a layperson's perspective it looks fine and maybe they like seeing them in the city streets," alliance founder Jordan Reichert told CTV News. "But the reality is, that's the same sort of arguments used by aquariums to keep whales in captivity and rodeos to keep performing."

The VHA disagrees with the notion that horse-drawn carriages provide a romantic tour of the city. Instead, they say horses are forced to breathe in vehicle fumes, the metal bits hurt their mouths, and walking on hard road surfaces could be harmful to their hooves.

The alliance also says that horses are stuck walking in the middle of traffic, putting them in danger of being hit by cars. The alliance's website maintains a list of collisions involving horses that currently includes four incidents in the past two years.

Such incidents have sparked calls for bans on horse-drawn carriages in the past, but they have so far been unsuccessful.

Veterinarians check the horses twice a year and horse stables are inspected annually. Erika Paul of the BC SPCA says there is also the possibility of investigations "if there was any concerns in regards to the care of the animals, the health of the animals, the way they're being treated or handled or trained."

As a result of these regulations, some people think that operators treat their horses better than how other horses are treated.

According to the alliance's website, if there is a ban, they will do everything in their power to make sure the horses go to sanctuaries and good homes.

A petition by the alliance currently has more than 590 signatures.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan