Carriage horse was ‘distressed’ before collapse in NYC: witness

The carriage horse, which collapsed on a Manhattan street last Wednesday, was “in distress” four hours before the troubling Central Park incident and “had trouble walking,” a witness said.

The struggling steed, named Ryder, was also verbally abused and yelled at by its driver, who was seen hitting the horse with his reins and whipping it before it wandered the hot tarmac at 9th Avenue and West 45th Street for more than an hour lay down. according to park visitor Caroline Smidt.

“This horse immediately caught my attention because it looked very different from the other horses,” Smidt, 42, wrote in a statement obtained by the Post. “I could see that his ribs were sticking out, he was walking with his tongue out and was having trouble walking. He walked very slowly.”

Smidt, who lives in New Jersey, was in Central Park with her husband and daughter last week when they saw Ryder. She is expected to discuss the horse’s problems at a Tuesday news conference before the Manhattan Attorney’s Office along with lawmakers and attorneys, who are asking prosecutors to file animal cruelty charges and open a criminal investigation into carriage horse abuse.

Ryder collapsed and lay on busy Manhattan for about an hour on August 10.
Ryder collapsed and lay on a busy Manhattan street for about an hour on August 10.

Smidt said in her statement that she saw Ryder’s driver “yelling and swearing at the horse for not moving fast enough, causing a ‘jam’ of horse-drawn carriages.

“The driver yelled and yelled at the horse to move even though he had customers in his carriage,” Smidt said, adding that she was later moved to tears over the encounter.

Timestamped images taken by Smidt show Ryder’s chest was visible as he marched through Central Park a day after a brutal heat wave.

Ryder looked emaciated and struggled for hours before collapsing in Manhattan, a witness claimed.
Ryder looked emaciated and struggled for hours before collapsing in Manhattan, a witness claimed.

Opponents of the horse-drawn carriage industry say Smidt’s observations cast doubt on the Hansom Cab Union’s claim that Ryder suddenly collapsed from a neurological condition caused by possum feces.

“This was not a spontaneous tragedy without warning, as the carriage horse industry has repeatedly – and incorrectly – claimed,” said Edita Birnkrant, executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets.

“The fact that Ryder exhibited neurological signs, muscular atrophy, and poor physical condition, which are chronic rather than acute conditions, is evidence of long-term neglect and possible abuse,” said Jim Keen, DVM, PhD, Director of Veterinary Science, Animal Wellness -Action.

The decades-long battle to ban carriage horses has gathered momentum in recent months, fueled by viral footage of horses collapsing and running into cars.

Councilor Robert Holden has proposed a ban on horse-drawn carriages.
Councilor Robert Holden, a Queens Democrat, introduced a measure that would ban the tourist attraction in New York City.

A bill under consideration in City Council would replace horse-drawn carriages with electric ones before the summer of 2024, giving horse drivers their first chance at operating them.

Union officials and insiders claim the legendary horses are well cared for and rarely involved in accidents.

The Transport Workers Union Local 100 did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/15/carriage-horse-was-in-distress-before-collapse-on-nyc-witness/ Carriage horse was ‘distressed’ before collapse in NYC: witness

JACLYN DIAZ

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