The saga of Tod "Doc" Mishler, who rides his horses cross-country supposedly to raise awareness about child hunger, has only gotten more dramatic: after stopping traffic while riding across the Outerbridge Crossing toward Staten Island and earning himself a pair of summonses, Mishler was separated from the horses so that they could be examined by a veterinarian. When that examination found the horses to be neglected and dehydrated, Mishler was arrested and charged with torturing and injuring animals, and yesterday, at his arraignment in Staten Island Criminal Court, Mishler said he'd be pleading not guilty, as he doesn't believe he's done anything wrong—but told reporters that he's "prepared to go to jail...prepared to die before I give away my horses."
Mishler showed up to court in full cowboy regalia, though he had to surrender his spurs before entering the courtroom, the NY Post reported. He told the tabloid that he'd been riding to New York City to see his son in Brooklyn, but when asked why his son wasn't in court with him, he said, "I'm not doing what he wants me to do...I'm doing what the lord wants me to do."
Mishler apparently told officials that he would push his horses to keep walking long distances even if they were limping, because "horses are strong, when you baby them they want to be lazy...I had a horse once that was limping but I made her push through it and after a couple miles, she started to walk right."
One of the horses had only been Mishler's possession for two weeks because he'd had to retire another horse after people complained that he was too thin and had 22,000 miles on him, the cowboy allegedly told authorities.
"I think people think I abused these horses," Mishler told the Staten Island Advance. "You're innocent until proven guilty, but I feel like it's reverse here. I have a few sores myself.
Mishler has said that he feels like his horses were stolen from him (even though he signed a waiver allowing them to be removed from his custody for evaluation and treatment), and has noted that "in Montana, they hang horse thieves."
The two horses are currently in the custody of the ASPCA, and are being treated for their injuries. Mishler is next due in court in August.