Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Abandoned horses rescued from Nelson Co. boarding farm; owner missing

Tuesday, September 13th 2016, 6:43 pm EDT

MT. WASHINGTON, KY (WAVE) -  He snorts loudly. Often. Mugs for the camera. The perfect thoroughbred to train as a barrel racer and as a companion to her prime mount, Bozo.

But Meaghan Metzmeier hadn't counted on worms, or that the 9-year-old she renamed Chance would be so malnourished that his ribs showed.

"His niece was calling and pretty much begging me to take him," Metzmeier told WAVE 3 News on Tuesday.

Metzmeier, and fellow competitor Christy DeWitt Summitt, first encountered Chance and 15-year-old thoroughbred Winston among fourteen mares, stallions and foals boarded in stables off of Nelsonville Road near Boston the Wednesday before Labor Day.  Their owner, Donnie Hairns Bentley Jr., was nowhere to be found.

"Each mare sat there and drank four buckets of water," Metzmeier said.

"Their stalls were built up, like two feet high of mud and manure," Summitt said. "They were almost hitting their heads on the (barn) ceilings."

She believes that's to blame for the abscess to Winston's left front hoof; its bandage was held in place with duct tape. He's kept mostly to himself among the eight horses and ponies Summitt is rehabilitating at Little Haven, her farm in Bloomfield.

"(Winston) took two hours to load,  because everybody out there was scaring the crap out of him," Summitt said.

Racing as Western Kind, Winston earned $101,947 in a two-year racing career with six wins, Summitt told us.  Standing at 17 hands, he's about 400 pounds below racing weight.

She'd been told he was aggressive, bucking his riders and chasing other mounts on the track. "He acts like he's been hit, but clearly he's not been taken care of either."

Summitt and Metzmeier know less of what to make of Donnie Bentley.

"He used to take good care of his horses," Summitt said. "They had racehorses and everything's gone downhill, so I'd say he needs some help."

"He should be put in jail and shouldn't own animals," Metzmeier added.

Bentley's run-ins with the law go back twenty years, according to the Bullitt County Circuit Court. They include a State Police arrest in 2014 for driving under the influence with an open container of alcohol, a guilty plea in 2008 to receiving stolen property and theft, and a conviction for public intoxication in 2007.

"He'd been here more than a year and hadn't paid any rent," said James Girdley, owner of the farm where Bentley had boarded Chance, Winston and at least ten more thoroughbreds or saddlebreds.  WAVE 3 News found only a mare and her foal there Tuesday. Girdley said both belonged to his brother.

"(Bentley) was supposed to take care of them. He didn't," Girdley explained. "That's another reason he's gone."

Where Bentley is now isn't clear. Girdley, Metzmeier and Summitt all say Bentley left no forwarding address or cell phone number.

Prior to Tuesday, nobody had reported concerns about Bentley's horses to the Kentucky Equine Health & Welfare Council, a Division of the Department of Agriculture created in 2010 to promote research and the development Certified Rescue & Retirement Centers for former racers and horses rescued from suspected abuse and neglect.

"We very much want to know about this," state veterinarian Dr. Bradley Keough told WAVE 3 News last week.  "We'd like some answers too."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Harness Horse Electrocuted by Trainer
June 30th, 2016

Harrison County, Kentucky – Prosecutors are charging  Michael Neafus (Mikey) with level 6 felony animal abuse after witness’ saw him abusing a horse.  Mikey, who trains and drives harness racing horses, allegedly took 3-year-old Shares Desires out of her stall, tied her up, and repeatedly shocked her for up to 10 minutes at a time.  Shares Desires “went nuts” according to the witness.  Mikey would also shock Shares Desires in her stall.
Owner, Ronald Conrad, is particularly upset at Mikey’s behavior.  “I’ve known Mikey since he was a baby. His father and I, when Louisville Downs was racing, we had horses together,” Conrad told reporters.  “It’s puzzling to me, because I thought he was a real friend.”  Shares Desires has a special place in Conrad’s heart, she was with him the day his brother died.  “He had had a massive heart attack and died that day.  So, that’s why she’s special to me.”
Harrison County District Attorney is pressing for the fullest punishment allowed by law.  “Every time you have allegations of animal abuse it makes you want to cringe,” Harrison County Prosecutor Otto Schalk told reporters. “In Harrison County we take animal cruelty very seriously, whether you’re a dog owner or in this case a horse trainer, if you torturing or abusing a defenseless animal, we are coming after you.”  Mikey is free on a $2,000 bond and is expected in court today.  He faces 2 1/2 years in prison if convicted.
Shares Desires seems to be ok, despite being quite skittish for a few days.

News Of The Horse


Update: Borell Horses In Dire Condition 

The twisting and troubled story of trainer Maria Borell took another shocking turn this week when more than 40 horses owned by her and/or her father, Chuck, were again found in deplorable conditions at yet another rented Kentucky farm. The group of horses, now located on a private property in Mercer County just outside of Harrodsburg, is the same as was previously found and documented to be in poor shape via photos and cell phone video in Woodford County by trainer Ken Summerville a few days before this year’s Kentucky Derby (GI).
Summerville, who hasn’t given up his quest to find the three horses he says Maria Borell took from him via lien when he was hospitalized in 2014 battling a life-threatening auto-immune disease, said once he found out the horses were moved out of Woodford County he set out trying to find their location. He called in multiple favors from multiple friends to get his hands on the address and, after a few weeks of searching, finally unearthed the location in late May.
“I never thought (the horses would) be released by the authorities from Stonegate (the farm in Woodford County rented by the Borells),” Summerville said. “So when I heard they were moved, I was angry and I was absolutely going to find them. I just hoped it’d be in time to help them.”
Armed with a group of friends to help document the conditions of the horses, ten days before the Belmont Stakes, Summerville went to the Mercer county property and found the horses in worse shape than ever. He and his group documented several horses of all ages with open sores all over their bodies, as well as yearlings not yet weaned and nearly every one hadn’t had blacksmith attention in months. Additionally, the horses were drinking unclean water from filthy buckets and troughs and many were housed in paddocks with broken fences that had yet to be repaired.
“They are the same horses as were on Kara’s farm and also Stonegate and were much worse off than they’d ever been, no question,” Summerville said. “At least with the other farms there were people there every day, but not this one. The owner lives in Tennessee and aside from another person renting space on the other side of the farm, nobody was watching.”
Longtime horsewoman Tres Delaforce, who is also a trainer, agreed to accompany Summerville on that first visit to the Mercer County property mostly because she wanted to see the condition of the horses herself. She says she heard about the poor care of Borell’s horses for “a long time,” but wanted to see the alleged neglect herself.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” Delaforce said. “Those horses hadn’t had basic care or regular feed in months. They were skin and bones. None were in acceptable shape. There was a worker there who told us the horses hadn’t had food in at least 10 days at that point — and you could tell. Some were even locked in a barn the entire time they were there, which had to have been at least two weeks. There was a dog there that the worker told me had been locked in a stall and that they were feeding her cat food.”
Following that visit, Summerville and Delaforce immediately paid a visit to the Mercer County sheriff, Ernie Kelty, to notify him of the condition of the horses and to see if there were any legal channels to help the horses. The sheriff agreed to investigate, they said, but acknowledged to them that it would take some time. For the past few weeks, Summerville and Delaforce have been waiting for the wheels of justice to finally turn in favor of the horses and all follow-up calls to Kelty were either unreturned or they were told the situation was in the “state’s hands.”
Then, this past Thursday, a volunteer on the farm desperate for help contacted Summerville. The volunteer told him that in the three weeks since she last saw Chuck Borell the condition of the horses has reached a dire situation and many cannot wait much longer for the state to intervene.
“She told me the horses were worse than ever,” Summerville said. “And that I needed to come and see right away. So I went back and she was right. Bad. Just bad.”
Summerville took photos and videos of the neglect. Delaforce, who thought she’d seen the worst of it, was stunned.
“The fact that (county and state officials) knew about this for weeks and let this continue boggles the mind,” Delaforce said. “I was speechless and that’s saying a lot for me. I could barely take any photos I was so stunned. Stunned.”
According to the volunteer, some feed has been provided by the sheriff, as well as volunteers, but the horses need much more, including grain and vet care and attention from a blacksmith. The volunteer said neither Maria Borell nor her father have contributed at all to the horses’ expenses and haven’t been seen or heard from in weeks.
“They left one woman to be in charge of taking care of all of the horses and organizing volunteers,” the source said. “She’s doing the best she can, but there are too many horses to take care of and too many are in such bad shape. They’ve had hay, but that’s been only since the sheriff stepped in. They haven’t had vet care and only a couple have seen the blacksmith and I guess he wasn’t paid either. No vet will come out unless they’re paid first.
“Nobody’s even sure who owns the horses. (Borell) I guess has said they’re his daughter’s horses, but he’s told some other people they’re his, so I don’t know what to think. All we know is that one or both of them are responsible for these horses and nobody has seen either of them in weeks. I’ve never even seen Maria herself. I was told she was here the first day they moved in and hasn’t been back since.”
The woman left in charge, Angie Cheak, when contacted by phone would only say she’s doing her best to care for the horses with limited resources.
“I don’t have a comment,” Cheak said. “We are doing the best we can. I can’t say anything else.”
Borell, who was the listed trainer for Gallery Racing’s Runhappy when the three-year-old won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) last October 31, was recently sued by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for non-payment of fees and didn’t show up to a scheduled hearing in Fayette County on June 10. She also has other default judgments against her and her training license in Kentucky is currently listed as “not valid” and “suspended for non-payment” in New York.
Additionally, Borell is currently involved in litigation against Gallery owner Jim McIngvale, who she alleges terminated her from her duties as private trainer and refused to pay the standard ten percent to trainers for winning, as is customary in racing for independent contractors. Borell maintains she had no such agreement despite her role as private trainer and has refused comment since late last year.
Calls and emails to the Mercer County sheriff, the county attorney, Milward Dedman, and the Kentucky state veterinarian were not returned as of this writing.

Update 09/09/2016

Charles Borell Offered Plea Deal In Case Of 43 Abandoned Horses

Charles Borell has been offered a plea deal on 43 counts of animal cruelty related to abandoned horses found on a Mercer County, Ky. farm. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, details of the plea were not disclosed by Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean following a pretrial conference held Thursday.

Borell did not attend the conference.

If Borell does not take the plea deal at a hearing on Sept. 29, a trial date will be scheduled. He is free on $4,300 bond.

Larry Catlett, attorney for Borell, declined to comment on the case to reporters but did acknowledge he has received 740 pages of evidence and a thumb drive with photographs of the abandoned horses, many of which were Thoroughbreds, from Mercer County.

An arrest warrant remains active for former Runhappy trainer Maria Borell on 43 counts of animal cruelty, but she is believed to be out-of-state, and cannot be extradited back to Kentucky on misdemeanor charges. One local television news report earlier this year even suggested she may have left the country.
The horses, who were largely cared for by volunteers and donated funds for weeks during the investigation this summer, have all been moved to 14 different facilities to receive care and treatment while officials await a conclusion to the case. All, including the six horses moved to the Blackburn Correctional Center (which included two of the horses with the worst body condition scores), are gaining weight and regaining alertness.

Paulick Report


Mercer Co. Sheriff investigating possible animal neglect case at thoroughbred farm

He says they believe the thoroughbred horses have been at the farm for two to three weeks, and the man who is leasing the farm has hired two people to take care of the horses there.
Sheriff Kelty said the man leasing the farm is cooperating with the investigation. WKYT has chosen not to release the man's name because he has not been charged.
Sheriff Kelty said he is working with a state agriculture official about the possible neglect of the horses. He met with that official on Thursday afternoon.
He says the state is getting involved partly because of the sheer number of horses, and partly because where the horses came from may end up being outside Mercer County, and therefore outside his office's jurisdiction.
Regardless of who leads the investigation, Sheriff Kelty said the important thing is that the horses are now being taken care of, and he says investigators will get to the bottom of all this.
"This definitely is serious to us," he said. "We've let everybody that's involved know that this is very serious to us and that we're going to do anything and everything we can to gather all the facts and make sure those horses are taken care of."
Kelty said the investigation is ongoing as they try to track down who was responsible for taking care of the horses.
One neighbor told WKYT's Garrett Wymer that this was the first he had heard of the investigation, but that he saw a couple trucks with trailers pull into the farm a couple of weeks ago. But, he added, that is not out of the ordinary around there.