Dreadhead Cowboy denies animal cruelty allegations following Dan Ryan protest; horse taken to local rescue

Chicago Animal Control and Care says it no longer has possession of animal after it was transferred to anonymous horse rescue

ByLeah Hope and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Dreadhead Cowboy denies animal cruelty allegations
Chicago's Dreadhead Cowboy, Adam Hollingsworth, rode his horse on the Dan Ryan Monday afternoon, and police say he is now facing animal cruelty charges.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The man known as Dreadhead Cowboy spoke for the first time Thursday after a protest ride down the Dan Ryan Expressway Monday landed him behind bars.

The horseman, Adam Hollingsworth, said he answered the call of the mayor when she asked for help promoting the census, and now he is asking for her help, along with other Chicago leaders and influencers, to do more to protect Chicago's children.

Dreadhead Cowboy speaks for 1st time following Dan Ryan protest

The man known as Dreadhead Cowboy is looking for his horse after it was taken into police custody following a protest ride down the Dan Ryan Expressway Monday that landed him behin

"I love Nunu... She is one of my newer horses. I've had her about three months and we've grown a bond," Hollingsworth said during a press conference Thursday. "A bond like, she's one of my kids."

Hollingsworth is facing aggravated animal cruelty charges, among others, after he shut down the busy expressway riding his horse Nunu for nearly seven miles during the evening rush hour earlier this week. He said the ride was in protest to bring attention to "Kids Lives Matter."

While he acknowledges he may have ridden his horse too long, he denies any cruelty on his part and 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."

Chicago's Animal Care and Control initially took the animal in for safety and evaluation, but as of Thursday, officials say they no longer have possession of the horse after it was taken to an anonymous area horse rescue.

Illinois State Police said, "The horse is currently under the care of an equine rescue partner of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She is receiving good care and her condition is improving."

Prosecutors say the horse can never be ridden again and may have to be euthanized due to its condition.

SPECIAL REPORT: Man rides horse down Dan Ryan Expressway

ABC7 Chicago special report as the Dreadhead Cowboy rode his horse down the Dan Ryan Monday afternoon, in what he called a #KidsLivesMatter protest.

The Chicago Alliance for Animals also said Nunu is safe and well taken care of at the horse rescue. They said that the horse's condition is better than it was Wednesday but that she is still having difficulty standing, adding that she can only stand for five to 10 minutes at a time.

Hollingsworth appeared in court virtually Wednesday where his bail was set at $25,000.

Hollingsworth reportedly left jail around 5:30 p.m Wednesday with his wife and friends but made no comment at the time.

In court a prosecutor told the judge, that Hollingsworth whipped the horse when it slowed and it was injured from an ill-fitting saddle and running miles on concrete.

The horse can never be ridden again and may be euthanized, the prosecutor said.

The horse was also said to be extremely dehydrated, overheated, suffered cuts and sores and is now in critical condition, prosecutor told the court.

Hollingsworth is facing several charges including reckless conduct, disobeying a police officer and trespassing on the expressway, obstruction of traffic by a person, pedestrian on a controlled access highway and operating a non-highway vehicle on a highway. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved one additional felony count of aggravated animal cruelty Tuesday evening.

The public defender noted Hollingsworth work as an activist, but the judge said treatment of the horse has nothing to do with protest.

Hollingsworth is expected to appear again in court on Sept. 30.

CHOPPER 7HD: Live over the scene as Dreadhead Cowboy galloped down Dan Ryan

Chopper 7HD was over the scene as the Dreadhead Cowboy rode his horse on the Dan Ryan Expressway Monday afternoon.

"He wasn't disturbing the peace. He wasn't hurting nobody," Lateshia Hollingsworth said. "It's very frustrating to even walk into a Chicago police station and they just have this nasty attitude and you're just trying to find information on your brother."

The calls started coming in just before 4:30 p.m. Monday as Hollingsworth was going live on social media with a message.

"Kids lives matter. Until kids lives matter, until we understand kids lives matter, nothing else matter," he said on Facebook Live.

In another post earlier on his Facebook page he wrote, "we focus on kids lives matter this gone keep happening" and told his followers he was going live at 4 p.m., saying, "y'all don't wanna miss this I promise."

Hollingsworth and his supporters said the ride was meant to get the public and politicians' attention to children's needs in the city. They say funding for children's programs, especially in low-income areas, is far from adequate and there is also not enough investment in those communities.

"I'm out here doing some positive things and the negative they are trying to bring upon what I'm out here really about, I feel like they are trying to take away from the bigger picture," he said.