Adam Hollingsworth is facing several charges, including animal cruelty. Hollingsworth rode his horse on the Dan Ryan during rush hour on Sept. 21 for several miles south to 95th Street, where he was eventually arrested..
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He said he was protesting violence against children, but prosecutors argue the horse was improperly saddled and badly hurt during the ride, leaving her in critical condition.
Wednesday's 9 a.m. court appearance was a preliminary hearing; the judge continued the case until late October.
"Last Monday my purpose was to bring awareness to a cause left unheard; to get the backlash has been very heartbreaking, to be painted like a monster; everyone knows I love my horses," Hollingsworth said after the appearance Wednesday.
Hollingsworth's lawyer is calling on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, and even actor Mr. T to help his client clear his name.
"He is inspired by Mr. T; I call upon Mr. T to please reach out to us. What Mr. T did with muscles and chains, my client is doing with western cowboy culture," attorney Jonathan Feldman said.
Prosecutors declined to comment Wednesday.
Nunu, Hollingsworth's horse, is said to be improving, according to city officials.
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Initial reports said Nunu was unable to stand for more than five to 10 minutes after the incident, according to Chicago Animal Care and Control officials.
Alderman Raymond Lopez said the horse is responding well to treatment.
He said when she first arrived in CACC care, she collapsed twice.
Hollingsworth denies the animal cruelty allegations.
"I love Nunu... She is one of my newer horses. I've had her about three months and we've grown a bond," he said during a press conference Thursday. "A bond, like, she's one of my kids."
While he acknowledged he may have ridden his horse too long he is looking to get Nunu back.
"It was very upsetting knowing that I love my horse," he said. "When I was hearing everything and I couldn't say nothing, and I had to stand there and just listen to all the lies that have been told on me."
Although there is footage of the injured and bleeding horse, Hollingsworth's attorney denies the horse was injured at all, and wants to hear from equine experts.
As of Thursday, Nunu was moved to a suburban farm where she is said to be getting specialized medical treatment, however officials say she can never be ridden again.
A GoFundMe for the horse raised over $10,000.
Lopez said Hollingsworth has at least four other horses in Dyer, Indiana, however CACC does not have jurisdiction there, and therefore cannot inspect those horses' conditions. The alderman also said he has an ordinance that would prohibit farm animals in the city, which he hopes can address the increasing number of people owning horses in the city.
Hollingsworth was released from jail last week after his bail was set at $25,000.
In court a prosecutor told the judge Hollingsworth whipped the horse when it slowed, and it was injured from the ill-fitting saddle and running miles on concrete.
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The horse was also said to be extremely dehydrated, overheated and suffered cuts and sores, the prosecutor told the court.
The public defender noted Hollingsworth's work as an activist, but the judge said his treatment of the horse has nothing to do with protest.
Hollingsworth remains out on bond.