The blistering heat that has gripped large swathes of the United States caused one of the iconic carriage horses in New York City to collapse on the street. The incident happened on Wednesday with bystanders watching in horror and animal lovers calling for a ban on the practice. The videos of the incident are being widely circulated on social media. Ryder the carriage horse collapsed near the intersection of W 45th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen area.
BREAKING: This horse COLLAPSED while pulling a carriage in NYC, likely from heat exhaustion, and has been down for over an hour.
Horses don’t belong in big cities where they’re put in constant danger because of cars, humans, weather, and more. pic.twitter.com/vXBVRJRjPB
— PETA (@peta) August 10, 2022
According to People magazine, New York Police Department’s (NYPD) mounted unit reached the spot after a worried onlooker called 911.
“The NYPD takes the health and well-being of our four legged friends in New York City very seriously, and are glad that our trained equestrian officers were able to assist,” the NYPD said in a statement to People.
A video shows two officers using a hose pipe to spray water on the animal to cool it off. The animal was “lying in the middle of the roadway in distress”, the NYPD said.
Another video shows bystanders cheering and clapping as the horse struggles to stand on its feet. The police took the animal in a horse shelter, according to UK-based publication Metro.
The outlet further said that the horse is conscious and awaiting veterinary care.
Some people who were present on the road where the incident took place said when the horse initially buckled to the ground, the carriage driver was seen whipping it with its reins in an attempt to get it to stand back up.
Distressed by extreme heat, the horse eventually laid its head on the asphalt after which the driver removed it from the carriage.
A number of animal welfare organisations called for ending the carriage horse abuse. “Horses don’t belong in big cities where they’re put in constant danger because of cars, humans, weather, and more,” People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said on Twitter.
Another such organization NYCLASS called on politicians to take action.
After the criticism of the driver, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said on Twitter that the horse was diagnosed with EPM – a neurological disease caused by possum droppings. “Please do not jump to conclusions before knowing the facts or talking to the carriage drivers’ union.”
The diagnosis of the equine veterinarian who examined Ryder is that he has EPM – a neurological disease caused by possum droppings. Please do not jump to conclusions before knowing the facts or talking to the carriage drivers’ union. https://t.co/uiVao4YCAZhttps://t.co/KLRXKqBQ74
— TWU Local 100 (@TWULocal100) August 11, 2022
TWU spokesperson Pete Donohue said in a statement that Ryder was purchased when after he went up for auction earlier this year. He was brought to New York in April.