Homeless Equestrian Traveller Arrested in Florida
Divorce, financial hardship and an automobile accident had caused life to go bad for Chris Emerson (right). So he saddled his aged horse, Trigger, rode out of Greenwood, South Carolina and headed south towards what he hoped would be a new start in Key West, Florida.
The ill-prepared traveller never made it.
Having run out of money, Emerson depended upon handouts and charity to survive. He lost one shoe while sleeping in a storm culvert and decided thereafter to go barefoot.
But it was the condition of his horse that resulted in Emerson’s arrest. The duo had travelled more than 700 miles, by which time they had reached Miami, Florida. As Emerson approached the city, people began to call the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to register their concerns about the condition of the horse.
Kathleen Monahan, the SPCA’s local president, said the non-profit was receiving calls as Emerson made his way south. “People who know about horses said the animal looked thin and started sending photos to us.”
When Miami-Dade police arrested Emerson, he was charged with two offences: animal cruelty and violating an animal’s health requirement.
Laurie Waggoner, who runs a rescue stable for the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the press. “The horse’s back is very, very sore. If you touch anywhere on his back, the horse quivers and backs away and tries to bite you. You can see all of his ribs.”
She told a local newspaper that a horse this size needs about 25 pounds of hay and a sizeable quality of grain per day. In contrast, officials say Emerson had tied two plastic bags, stuffed with lawn trimmings, to his saddle. Emerson, who planned to feed the cut grass to the horse, was unaware that cut grass can cause severe colic in a horse.
Dr Zachary Franklin, the vet who examined Trigger, doesn’t have a problem riding a horse on a long distance journey. But he does object to a person not caring or feeding the horse correctly. “A horse can easily be ridden from South Carolina to the Florida Keys as long as they’re fed properly and in good condition. “
Trigger was found by Dr Franklin to be severely underweight with sores in his mouth.
The veterinarian warned, “Don’t ride a horse that’s in this condition.”
Meanwhile, Trigger was taken to a farmhouse where he is expected to remain for several months while recovering.
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