In August 2022, a carriage horse collapsed to the ground in Manhattan, New York, and shocked onlookers watched in disbelief as the driver whipped the horse in an effort to get him to stand. The heartbreaking incident took place on 9th Avenue and West 45th Street in Hell’s Kitchen on a day when the outside temperature climbed into the upper 80s.
The horse, named Ryder later died, and now more than a year after the frail horse’s death, the driver has been charged with animal abuse. Ian McKeever, 54, faces one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals and failure to provide proper sustenance in the tragic life and death of the underweight Standardbred.
“As alleged, Ryder should not have been working on this hot summer day. Despite his condition, he was out for hours and worked to the point of collapse. All animals deserve to be treated with the utmost care and the type of abuse that Ryder allegedly suffered is unacceptable.”District Attorney Bragg
According to the New York Post, McKeever denied ever hurting Ryder and claims the charges have all been politicized.
get up! the carriage driver ordered ryder while whipping him – only for ryder to keel over on his side.Cell phone video on social media
Video posted online at the time, showed concerned bystanders lashing out at the driver as he tried to get the seemingly exhausted horse to stand.
Police tried to help Ryder by pouring cool water and ice over him for more than 45 minutes. While McKeever later told police that the horse was 13-years-old and had just completed a seven hour shift, veterinarian records indicated the horse was between 28 – 30 years of age.
In a follow up to the viral news about the carriage horse’s collapse, Ryder had been turned over to new owners who stated they had been treating the horse for EPM, (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis), a parasitic infection. The condition, believed to be caused by possum droppings, caused Ryder to stumble and fall. Once he had fallen, the horse had a difficult time getting back on his feet and suffered leg abrasions, a cut on his neck and bruises on his knees.
Ryder was then retired to a private farm in upstate New York and euthanized months later.
It is not known why it has taken more than a year to charge McKeever, who was released after his brief appearance at the Manhattan Criminal Court.
There has been a continuing push to ban the carriage horse industry following Ryder’s collapse and subsequent death.
D.A. Bragg thanked the NYPD Mounted Unit, especially Sergeant Vincent Fontana. He also thanked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine for their work on this investigation.