Man riding horse from S.C. to Key West arrested on animal cruelty charges

Christopher Emerson's horse impounded by SPCA

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A man riding a horse from South Carolina to Key West was arrested in southwest Miami-Dade County on animal cruelty charges.

Christopher Emerson, 36, was arrested Wednesday morning as he rode his horse, Trigger, on the busway on 142nd Street and South Dixie Highway.

Emerson, who began his journey from his home in Greenwood, South Carolina, more than four months ago, claimed he had been going through a "rough patch" after a divorce and wrecking his truck and wanted a fresh start.

The South Florida SPCA received numerous calls alerting them that Trigger did not look in good shape.

When he was found, Trigger was found to be in poor condition with low body weight and low body fat. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being almost obese, Trigger registered a 3.

Emerson told police that "he did not have any money to feed his horse or himself" and was depending on strangers for assistance to survive the trip.

"The horse isn't in any condition to travel that far," SPCA spokeswoman Laurie Waggoner said. "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."

After the arrest, Trigger was taken to a stable where he will be evaluated for any possible medical condition.

Emerson said the duo would walk all day before stopping on the side of the road to camp during the night.

He will now have to go to court to try to get his horse back.