Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged carriage horse driver Ian McKeever with abusing a horse. Ryder collapsed on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen in August 2022 after working for hours in an 84-degree heat.
McKeever, 54, of Long Island, is charged with one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, failure to provide proper sustenance, a Class A misdemeanor.
“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,” said District Attorney Bragg. “All animals deserve to be treated with the utmost care and the type of abuse that Ryder allegedly suffered is unacceptable.”
Ryder was stabled on W38th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue. He was euthanized several months after the incident due to his poor medical condition.
Court documents show that on August 10, 2022, McKeever had been working with Ryder in Central Park since 9:30am. Ryder was observed to be very thin and frail – clear signs of an unhealthy body condition, based on standard health measures. He was also seen walking slowly while panting with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
The collapse, which made news worldwide, happened at approximately 5:10pm on 9th Avenue near W45th Street as the horse was returning to stables. McKeever repeatedly tried to force Ryder to stand by pulling on the reins, yelling and using a whip. At no point did McKeever provide any water to Ryder while he was on the ground, despite the 84-degree weather. The driver initially kept Ryder attached to the carriage harness while he was lying on the ground. NYPD officer Michael Keegan eventually removed the harness, allowing Ryder to fully lie down. The police officer then put ice and cold water on Ryder for 45 minutes until he was finally able to stand up.
In a court statement, Sergeant Vincent Fontana of the NYPD Mounted Unit said that McKeever had stated at the scene: “This horse is named Ryder. He is a 13-year-old standardbred carriage horse. We’ve been out since 9:30 this morning working in Central Park. We were on our way back to the barn and he collapsed.”
It was later determined that Ryder was 26 years old and suffered from a variety of significant health issues. He was eventually euthanized due to his overall health and medical conditions.
In a statement this afternoon (Wednesday), DA Bragg thanked the NYPD Mounted Unit, especially Sergeant 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 the investigation.
The charges in the misdemeanor complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.
Councilmember Erik Bottcher told W42ST this afternoon: “I am pleased to see that justice is being served for Ryder’s death. This tragic event is a prime example of why New York City should phase out the horse carriage industry, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the legislation that will do just that. We have a duty to protect the welfare of animals and to do everything we can to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.”
We will update this story…