Handler due in court after death of NYC carriage horse in viral video, rally planned

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Horse handler in viral horse carriage collapse to appear in court
Ryder collapsed while working pulling a carriage in New York City. It's alleged he was mistreated by his handler.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The horse handler charged in the death of carriage horse Ryder more than a year ago is due in court on Wednesday.

Outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court, where McKeever is appearing, New York City Council Member Robert Holden, NYCLASS, horse trainers, and other concerned animal rights activists are set to rally for the city council to shut down the horse carriage business.

Ryder was a 26-year-old horse that collapsed on the street in Hell's Kitchen in August of 2022 after working several hours in 84-degree heat.

The viral video that captured the incident showed the horse on the ground and being allegedly beaten by his driver.

After the incident, Ryder retired to a farm upstate to receive veterinary care but was euthanized several months later due to his poor health.

"In 21st Century New York City, and frankly anywhere else, we should no longer see horses laboring to pull carriages in traffic; it's a practice that's outdated, inhumane, and unsafe," Holden said. "Passing a ban on horse-drawn carriages is a no-brainer decision that would protect horses and the public and benefit workers, marking an end to this cruel and antiquated industry."

Prosecutors charged 54-year-old horse handler Ian McKeever with one misdemeanor count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, and failure to provide proper sustenance.

"We commend the Manhattan DA for prosecuting Ian McKeever for his barbaric abuse of Ryder," said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS. "However, it's not enough to end the suffering of so many other horses continually forced into traffic 10 hours a day while elderly, injured, and sick - just like Ryder was."

During the investigation, it was determined that Ryder was only drawing carriages for four months and was overworked to the point of his collapse.

"After documenting the terrible condition of New York's carriage horses for nine months, I am confident saying that this business needs to stop now, said longtime New York horse trainer Michael Petrelli. " There are dozens of horses in pain pulling carriages around Midtown every day, and some are crashing into cars, collapsing and dying inside stables."

Birnkrant also says Ryder's treatment and end-of-life are not isolated.

"We know criminal animal abuse is going on every day to these horses," Birnkrant said. "They are at our mercy, and everyone is failing them. We want this shut down, we want the City Council to pass Ryder's law."

ALSO READ | Exclusive: Bronx residents on edge after series of repeated car break-ins

Lucy Yang has the exclusive report.


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