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Carriage driver charged with torture in horse Ryder’s death

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | A carriage horse driver has been charged with animal torture for literally working his horse to death.

On Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced that Ian McKeever, 54, of Long Island has been slapped with one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, failure to provide sustenance, a Class A misdemeanor.

According to the D.A., McKeever “abused” the horse, Ryder, “to the point of collapse” on the street in Hell’s Kitchen, working the equine working for hours on an 84-degree day. Following his collapse, Ryder suffered from significant health issues, and was euthanized several months after the incident due to his poor medical condition, Bragg said.

A carriage horse driver gives a thumbs-up. (Photo by The Village Sun)

“As alleged, Ryder should not have been working on this hot summer day,” Bragg stated. “Despite his condition, he was out for hours and worked to the point of collapse. All animals deserve to be treated with the utmost care and the type of abuse that Ryder allegedly suffered is unacceptable.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record, on Aug. 10, 2022, McKeever had been working with Ryder in Central Park since 9:30 a.m. The carriage horse, at the time, was “very thin and frail — clear signs of an unhealthy body condition based on standard health measures,” according to a D.A. press release. “He was also seen walking slowly while panting with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.”

Around 5:10 p.m., Ryder fell down in a heap in the middle of the street at W. 45th Street and Ninth Avenue. McKeever repeatedly tried to force him to stand by pulling on the reins, yelling and using a whip — not providing the fallen animal with any water despite the heat — according to the D.A.

McKeever initially kept Ryder attached to the carriage harness while the workhorse was lying on the ground. Sergeant Vincent Fontana, a member of the N.Y.P.D. Mounted Unit, eventually removed the harness, allowing Ryder to fully lie down. The sergeant then put ice and cold water on Ryder for 45 minutes until he was finally able to stand up.

A carriage horse inside Central Park near Central Park South. (Photo by The Village Sun)

D.A. Bragg thanked the 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 this investigation.


  1. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro November 16, 2023

    There’s a huge grassy area north of the Great Lawn. That’s where the horses should live. Build a stable and fence in an area for them to enjoy at least a semblance of freedom.

    • Carol Frances Yost Carol Frances Yost November 17, 2023

      I think horses should not be forced to pull carriages.

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