Animal rights group seethes over startling new information about collapsed carriage horse Ryder

A demonstrator holds a sign reading “Hasn’t this poor horse suffered long enough?”
Photo by Dean Moses

Citing a police report, an animal rights group says members of the horse carriage industry lied about the health of Ryder, the steed that collapsed in Midtown on Aug. 10.

The viral video of a carriage horse collapsing and subsequently being revived by the NYPD sent reverberations of shock and fury throughout the city and renewed calls for the tourist attraction to be shut down once and for all. 

Now rage is being raised once more with the release of a police report from the NYPD Mounted Unit. The carriage industry reported that Ryder was 13 years old at the time of the collapse and soon thereafter was given a clean bill of health by a stable veterinarian who animal rights advocates have slammed for allegedly failing to provide adequate care.

According to a report by police who, after reviving the horse, had the animal examined by their own expert, revealing a shocking fact. The NYPD veterinarian found Ryder to be vastly older than initially claimed. Instead of being 13 or 14, the reports cites the animal’s age to be consistent with 28-30 years with other underlying health issues.

“A preliminary examination of the horse was conducted by Dr. Sierra DVM.  An initial diagnosis determined that the horse was 28-30 years old rather than the aforementioned 13 years old, that it was malnourished, underweight and suffers from the equine neurological disorder EPM (Equine Protazoal Myeloencephalitis). Additionally, the horse suffered superficial abrasions to its legs as a result of its collapse. Blood samples were taken by the DVM and results are pending,” part of the report read.  

The Department of Health rules that horses may only work until 26 years old, meaning that having Ryder pull a carriage may have violated these terms. 

“The horse carriage industry is completely out of control. In dozens of news stories, carriage horse industry representatives have lied to the public to minimize the true horror of their reckless, abusive, and potentially criminal conduct,” Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS said. “That is an extremely old age for a horse – and a clear violation of NYC rules that strictly prohibit working a horse past the age of 26. The report also determined that Ryder was underweight and ‘malnourished,’ meaning he had ‘been denied adequate food and water for a very long time.’ This industry’s endless lies prove that they cannot be trusted to police themselves.”

With eyewitnesses at the collapse also reporting that the driver abused the horse, whipping it while it was down.

This combined with the police report has NYCLASS, PETA, and others calling upon District Attorney Alvin Bragg to bring criminal action against the driver and launch an investigation into the industry, shutting it down until the findings have been discovered. This all comes in tandem with a new bill that is seeking to end the horse industry and be replaced with electric carriages.

Council Member Erik Bottcher, who is co-sponsoring the bill, Intro. 573,  called the revelation appalling.

“This is appalling and inexcusable. This new report sadly further confirms what we already knew: the current laws simply aren’t enough to protect carriage horses in New York City. It is past time to follow the lead of other cities and move past this outdated industry while transitioning workers to alternative employment,” Bottcher told amNewYork Metro.

amNewYork Metro reached out the TWU 100 and is awaiting a response.