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Carriage horse collapses in Central Park, prompting animal rights group to call for investigation

CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan — A collapsed carriage horse in Central Park is prompting an animal rights organization to call for an investigation, but a carriage driver familiar with the incident is saying the animal had tripped that morning and is fine.

Witnesses said the carriage horse began breathing heavily before collapsing just before 10 a.m. on Feb. 21, according to the NYCLASS, an animal rights organization.

The incident happened near Tavern on the Green in Central Park. The horse had just started pulling the carriage for the day.

Bystanders took photos of the white horse down on his side in the middle of the street while still tied to the carriage.

There was no police report filed on the incident.

NYCLASS is urging an investigation into the incident and the horse's well-being.

“Horses don’t just collapse. Something happened — and the city should get to the bottom of it and make sure it never happens again," a NYCLASS spokesperson said.

However, Cristina Hansen, a carriage driver familiar with the incident, told PIX11 News the horse, whose name is Max, had tripped that morning.

"Max tripped and fell, it happens sometimes. The way he fell with his legs under him, he wasn't able to get up without Chris, the driver, unhooking him from the carriage, which he did," Hansen said.

"Max then rolled over on its side, stood up and was fine," Hansen said.

Hansen said an NYPD officer who was near the area asked what happened, checked out the horse and looked at videos and photos a witness took.

The officer then cleared the driver to hook Max up to the carriage, Hansen said.

Despite drivers reassurance on Max's well-being, NYCLASS is still demanding an investigation into the incident.

"They should conduct an immediate investigation into the health and whereabouts of this horse, including allowing an independent vet to examine the animal," the NYCLASS spokesperson said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had proposed a bill that would reduce the number of horses in New York City, banned carriage horses on Manhattan streets except for Central Park and invested money in stable renovations.

However, the City Council pulled the reigns on the bill and squashed it when Teamsters, the organization representing carriage drivers, dropped its support for the proposed legislation.

The City Council said they are working on a new piece of legislation.