Animal rights advocates mourn the death of Ryder the carriage horse in Midtown

Animal rights advocates gathered on Oct. 18 to mourn the death of Ryder, the carriage horse who collapsed in Midtown over the summer.

A large group of sign-touting, flower-carrying mourners gathered at 45th Street and 9th Avenue, the scene where Ryder fell in August. The collapse was one heard around the world, sparking fury from animal lovers everywhere, including celebrities. Earlier this week it was revealed by Sanctuary at Maple Hill Farms that Ryder had been euthanized after suffering from cancer.

Hosted by NYCLASS and PETA, the groups used the vigil to urge the city council to pass what they are calling “Ryder’s law,” a bill that would ban the horse carriage industry in New York City and replace them with electric carriages.

A vigil was held for the horse. Photo by Dean Moses

“There are no more excuses for allowing carriage horse and worker abuses. Ryder’s death, following his collapse and cover up, exposed the complicity of carriage horse owners and their union allies in industry-wide abuse and corruption. With the whole world watching, they lied about Ryder’s age, they lied about his health, and now they are facing a criminal investigation. But the problem is bigger than one sick, elderly horse who was being worked to death. Over 70% of New Yorkers agree – it’s time for the City Council to take action to end the abuse of all carriage horses in our city. We can’t wait for the next horse to drop dead or crash into Midtown traffic. For better wages without animal abuse, pass this bill now,” Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS said.

Attendees wept as they laid flowers on the sidewalk beside where the workhorse fell. “I am sorry, Ryder,” people said while throwing the flowers down.

Flowers were thrown down. Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Queens City Council Member Robert Holden, who introduced the legislation, and Manhattan Council Member Erik Bottcher also joined with mourners to advocate for the passage of the bill.

“Ryder is a symbol of how abusive the horse carriage industry is. It’s a disgrace that we’re still doing this in 2022 making these horses suffer,” Holden roared. “I’m sick of it. Everyone is sick of it.”

TWU Local 100, the horse carriage union, however, claims that they ensured that Ryder was loved and cared for after being placed at the sanctuary.

“Ryder touched our lives in so many ways. Thanks to him, we have initiated new veterinary and safety protocols and made significant steps towards the union’s HEART platform,” Christina Hansen, Central Park horse-carriage driver and chief shop steward with TWU Local 100 said.

Robert Holden.Photo by Dean Moses