August 22, 2022
By Tina Moore and Emily Crane
The struggling carriage horse that collapsed on a busy Manhattan street earlier this month was malnourished, underweight — and much older than previously reported, a police report obtained by The Post shows.
The steed, named Ryder, was examined by a veterinarian in the wake of the Aug. 10 ordeal after the sick animal buckled on Ninth Avenue and West 45th Street — then lay there for more than an hour as his driver struck him and screamed for him to get up.
“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),” cops wrote in their report.
“Additionally, the horse suffered superficial abrasions to its legs as a result of its collapse.”
The carriage driver, Ian McKeever, had told cops on the scene that Ryder was “a 13-year-old gelded Standardbred,” the police report said.
Following the incident, the Transport Workers Union, which reps the carriage drivers, said Ryder’s collapse was related to his EPM diagnosis — and urged critics not to “jump to conclusions before knowing the facts.”
The union didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on Monday regarding the horse’s age and health.
Ryder’s ordeal sparked immediate outrage from animal rights groups and prompted calls from lawmakers for prosecutors to file animal cruelty charges and launch a criminal probe into wider carriage horse abuse.
A witness who spotted Ryder in Central Park hours before his troubling collapse had recalled seeing the horse “in distress” and “having trouble walking.”
But Christina Hansen, a shop steward at TWU, later dismissed that witnesses account, saying the claims were “unlikely.”
She also said animal advocates, including the anti-horse carriage group NYCLASS, had a history of drumming up abuse claims against the industry “without proof.”
As the decades-long fight to ban carriage horses has gained steam in recent months, union officials and insiders continue to claim the iconic horses are well cared for.
Meanwhile, Queens Councilman Robert Holden ramped up his push to ban horse carriages in the Big Apple in the wake of the latest animal collapse.
Holden’s bill — introduced last month — aims to replace horse-drawn carriage with electric ones. If passed, the new measure would give drivers preferences for electric carriage licensure and also require they be paid union wages.