Man facing animal cruelty charge for riding horse from SC to Key West after divorce

A man trying to ride his horse from South Carolina to Key West following his divorce is now facing an animal cruelty charge.

The Miami-Herald reported that 36-year-old Chris Emerson left his Greenwood, South Carolina home about five months after getting divorced and crashing his truck. He wanted to relocate to Key West and decided to ride his horse Trigger down.

“I was married. Had a truck,” he told the newspaper, adding that he’s had Trigger for about eight years. “Got a divorce. Wrecked my truck.”

Miami-Dade police stopped Emerson on Wednesday and determined that Trigger was dangerously malnourished. He has been charged with an animal cruelty charge.

Officials said Emerson, who was barefoot when he was stopped, had two plastic bags stuffed with lawn trimmings for the horse to eat.

“He likes the fresh stuff,” Emerson told the Herald. “He likes the green grass … He’s a good horse.”

However, it’s not enough for the horse of his size, Laurie Waggoner told the newspaper.

Waggoner runs the rescue stable where Trigger was taken and said Emerson was “misguided” in caring for the horse.

She told the Herald that a horse his size needs about 25 pounds of hay and quality grains a day.

“Grass down here has little to no nutritional value,” Waggoner added.

She said a veterinarian determined Trigger was about 20 years old and blind in one eye.

“The vet said the horse was not in any condition to be ridden, much less from South Carolina all the way down to Miami,” she said.

Authorities said Emerson “appeared homeless” when they stopped him and had depended on the help of others to feed himself and Trigger.

Emerson has been charge with animal cruelty and violating an animal’s health requirement, the Herald reported.

Emerson said he has not had not been in touch with his family and lost track of time while on his trek. He added that he didn’t really have plans once he arrived to Key West.

“I’m thankful to be where I am now,” he told the Herald. “I rode a horse from South Carolina to Miami, Florida. The things I’ve seen between here and there are priceless. It’s more than I’ve done in my whole entire life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.