Country Throwback: The Time Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw Were Arrested for Stealing a Horse

by Will Shepard

In Upstate New York on June 3, 2000, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw were arrested for stealing a horse. The horse the two country music stars rode was special though not just a regular horse. There’s a small, crucial detail involved.

The steed was a police horse.

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw were arrested in Buffalo, New York. Chesney, at the time, was 32 years old, got on a deputy’s horse and rode off, consequently earning himself the arrest. While McGraw didn’t get the opportunity to ride the horse, he certainly did his part to earn an arrest.

Tim McGraw and his manager at the time apparently attacked some Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies. The reason for the attack was that McGraw felt they were trying to stop Kenny Chesney from riding the horse.

Immediately, the two country stars’ arrest became national news. The incident even got its own moniker, the “horse incident.”

How Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw Got Arrested

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw were both performing earlier in the day at the George Strait Country Music Festival. The concert was at Orchard Park, home of the Buffalo Bills.

While the two certainly were among the favorites performing at the country festival, others played as well. Some others included the King himself, George Strait, as well as Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, and Asleep at the Wheel.

However, after the venue, the two singers began a night out on the town. Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Mark Russo were arrested. But, all three were later released on bail.

The charges, however, were heavy and serious. Chesney’s charges were not as serious, only being given disorderly conduct. On the other hand, though, McGraw was charged with a felony for assaulting a police officer. Reportedly, the officer suffered minor injuries.

In court, a year later, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Mark Russo were all found not guilty. During the judge’s reading of the verdict, Chesney and McGraw began hugging. Meanwhile, Faith Hill was wiping away tears in the front row.

However, the whole situation was apparently a misunderstanding. Kenny Chesney, in an interview, says that it began because the daughter of one of the Sheriffs gave him permission to sit on the horse. Even though the two country musicians got carried away, their intentions to begin were only good ones.

“Unfortunately, what was meant to be a totally innocent and fun gesture, was blown way out of proportion. Tim McGraw and I have been friends for a very long time. When he saw me in danger of being harmed, he simply came over to help out his friend.”

Chesney Talks Arrest

A little while after the arrests, Chesney goes into detail about their arrests. Both of them joke about the incident during the Youtube clip.

After the Horse Riding Incident

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw remain fast friends to this day, despite their antics. In fact, in 2012, the two went on tour together and would end up winning a CMA Award that year. The two country singers won a musical event award for “Feel Like a Rock Star.”

In the following years after their arrests in Buffalo, the two have gone back for several concerts.

Both of the singers were supposed to perform at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Syracuse. The two were going to perform separately. But, the concert had to be postponed because of coronavirus. Chesney is postponing the show until 2021, while McGraw outright canceled his performance.