A well-known Christchurch personality who rides a horse through city streets and takes it to local bars arrived at court today on horseback, and represented himself in the dock barefoot.

Richard James Hayden, 46, hitched his horse, Beauti-foal outside Christchurch District Court this morning where it grazed on Ministry of Justice grass.

The homeless man then appealed that a charge of endangering safety - when his other horse Archie escaped his control last year and galloped down a Christchurch motorway where it was struck by a car, and later put down - should be dropped.

He stood in the dock, representing himself, and argued that he was doing nothing wrong at the time.


Judge Somerville said the charge was a legitimate one, read a police summary of facts, and quizzed Hayden as to how the horse came to escape from his control on April 7 this year.

Hayden claimed his case was strong and indicated that he would take it to trial where he believed he would be successful.

He said that he had been at a church in Addington that evening when a gust of wind spooked his horse, causing him to fall off the horse he was riding, and for Archie's reins to come out of his grasp.

Archie then leaped over a chain fence and took off "in a terrified gallop" Hayden told the court.

Archie galloped for around 2km before he was struck on the dual carriageway of Brougham Street about 7.45pm.

Police said the complainant who was driving had not sought reparation for damage to his car. The driver received minor injuries.

Judge Somerville entered a not-guilty plea, and the case will go to trial. Hayden asked for it to be heard in Te Reo Maori, which is his legal right.

Hayden later caused a fracas in court, claiming he wanted to leave to "check his animals" but had to remain in court to sign some documents.

Afterwards, he rounded up his muzzled terrier and a newborn puppy that he put in his rucksack, and mounted Beauti-foal. He told APNZ he intended to represent himself at trial, and again reiterated that he had a strong case.

A woman who had just come out of court, asked for a lift, and he gave her a ride outside the court house to much amusement, with cars stopping traffic to take a gander, before Hayden trotted off.

Hayden appeared earlier this month in a documentary on the lives of homeless people in post-earthquake Christchurch.

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