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Man riding malnourished horse from S.C. to Fla. keys charged with animal cruelty

MIAMI -- Authorities say a man who was trying to ride his horse from South Carolina to Key West is facing an animal cruelty charge in South Florida.

The Miami-Herald reports that 36-year-old Chris Emerson was stopped Wednesday morning by Miami-Dade police. Officials determined that Emerson’s horse, Trigger, was dangerously malnourished.

Emerson told the Herald he left Greenwood, South Carolina, about five months ago. He said he decided to ride his horse to Key West after he got divorced and crashed his truck.

“I just had a bad, rough patch with my wife. Got a divorce and wrecked my truck. The old country story thing,” Emerson told CBS Miami.

Laurie Waggoner runs the rescue stable in south Florida where Trigger was taken. She told the Herald that a horse his size needs about 25 pounds of hay and quality grains a day. Officials say Emerson had two plastic bags stuffed with lawn trimmings for the horse to eat.

Emerson told the station he didn’t have money to feed himself or the horse, and depended on contributions from strangers along the journey. He wasn’t sure how he would care for the horse when he reached his destination.

Waggoner told the station concerned animal lovers contacted her group after Emerson chronicled the ride on Facebook. She said Trigger appeared skinny and had open sores on his back.

“The horse is not in good physical condition to make this journey,” Waggoner told CBS Miami.

Trigger will undergo rehabilitation and receive medical treatment at Waggoner’s rescue stable. Emerson is expected in court to face the animal cruelty charge.

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