A man who rode his malnourished horse more than 700 miles from his home in South Carolina to Miami-Dade County in Florida has been arrested on a charge of animal cruelty.
Authorities took Christopher Emerson into custody on Nov. 23 after witnesses saw the horse Trigger in poor health and complained to the South Florida Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, WPLG reported.
Emerson told police he set out from his home more than four months ago and was aiming to travel to Key West.
“I just had a bad rough patch with my wife,” Emerson said, according to WSVN. "Got a divorce, I wrecked my truck, the whole country story thing."
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He went on to tell police that “he did not have any money to feed his horse or himself,” according to WPLG.
Emerson was taken to jail Nov. 23 and is being held on a bond of $6,000.
“Ride a horse in America and you get locked up,” he said, WSVN reported.
Investigators said Emerson did not provide the horse with food or water during the trip.
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“The horse isn't in any condition to travel that far,” SPCA spokeswoman Laurie Waggoner told WPLG. “He is almost completing lacking in subcutaneous body fat. He has very little muscle. You can see the skeletal structure. You can feel all of his ribs. You can see the individual vertebrae, his hip bones and all the bones on the horse. His back is very sensitive. He gets very mad if you touch it because it is very sensitive for him.”
Waggoner also accused Emerson of exploiting the horse to get help from strangers.
“He was using this horse as a way to make money, and this horse is the one who paid for it,” Waggoner said, according to WSVN.
The South Florida SPCA is caring for Trigger, and officials hope he will make a full recovery.
“A horse can easily be ridden from South Carolina to the Keys as long as they’re fed properly and in good condition,” Dr. Zachary Franklin told WSVN. “Don’t ride a horse that’s in this condition.”