Carriage horse Ryder dies months after infamous collapse on Midtown streets

Animal rights activists said Monday that Ryder, the carriage horse who infamously collapsed in Midtown this summer, has died. 

The sad news was announced by the Unbridled Heroes Project and the sanctuary where he had been living since the infamous collapse took place. This came amid swirling rumors that the former work animal’s health had been rapidly declining, sources close to the situation revealed.

“The Equine Rescue Resource, Inc. (ERR), The Sanctuary at Maple Hill Farms, Inc. (SMH) and the Unbridled Heroes Project (UHP) have joined in this press release to sadly report that Ryder, the carriage horse that gained national attention after collapsing on the street on Aug. 10 of this year was recently humanely euthanized due to his medical condition and age,” part of the statement read. 

The news of Ryder’s death has outraged many, spurring on the call to outright ban the horse carriage industry that has seen several horses fall while working during the last number of years.

“We are devastated to learn that Ryder has died. His horrific collapse, after years of abuse, inspired tens of thousands of people from across the globe to stand up to carriage horse industry cruelty. But make no mistake: this tragedy was not caused by an act of God – Ryder’s death was the result of savage cruelty and greed. To make a profit, the horse carriage industry would have literally worked Ryder to death if it weren’t for viral videos and the people who exposed their endless lies and cover ups. Their mistreatment of Ryder is the reason he is dead two months later,” Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS said in a statement.

Ryder’s body is being transported to Cornell Equine Hospital for a necropsy to determine a cause of death. This comes as Ryder’s previous carriage driver Ian McKeever is reportedly currently under investigation after he was seen repeatedly whipping Ryder after he collapsed during a ride.

Videos of Ryder’s collapse in August went viral, sparking renewed debate over the continuation of carriage horses shuffling tourists around Central Park amid repeated allegations of abuse. Queens Councilman Robert Holden used the controversy to push for the tourist trade to be replaced with electric carriages, something he has seen garner widespread support.

“We are devastated to learn that Ryder, the elderly horse who collapsed and was beaten by his carriage owner in the street in the midst of a heat wave this summer, has died. Ryder’s death is yet another tragic reminder that horse carriages do not belong on the streets of NYC and was wholly avoidable had NYC Speaker Adrienne Adams respected the wishes of 71% of New Yorkers to pass a ban on horse carriages. Ryder would be alive today had Adams given the bill a vote earlier this year,” Allie Taylor, President of Voters For Animal Rights told amNewYork Metro.

Many celebrities such as Joaquin Phoenix and Billie Eilish have also joined the call to end what many now see as an abusive practice.

During an investigation, it was revealed that Ryder was apparently underweight and much older than previously claimed, 30 instead of 13. At such an advanced age (horses tend to live between 25 and 30 years), critics charged that he would have been barred by law from pulling carriages.

Christina Hansen, the Communications Liaison Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park, LLC., responded to the death by stating she, as well as those in the horse carriage industry, are saddened by this news. 

“We are very saddened to learn of Ryder’s passing. We know that he received the best of care with his new owner and veterinary team at Cornell. We’re sorry that at the end of Ryder’s long life, he did not get to enjoy more of his retirement. Even though we only knew him a short time, 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. Ryder has positively impacted carriage horse welfare and brought our carriage community together. Our condolences to all of his connections and everyone who knew him, even for a moment,” Hansen said.