This makes us sick.
Gwen Stockebrand is by all accounts a talented and accomplished rider and trainer.
Some of her accomplishments include
- 1978 USET Dressage team
- 1979 placed 16th in the World Championships and 3rd in the Musical Kur
- 1979 Pan Am Games silver medal winner
- 1980 USET Dressage team, ranked 15th in the world
She has brought numerous horses to the Grand Prix level and continues to train horses and riders in Northern California and Arizona. She
coaches out of Sanbar Dressage (Edited: Apparently that page is out of date and she hasnt coached out of the facility in years. Sorry Sanbar!) and currently owns and lives at Flying Changes Farm in Santa Rosa. Just last year she was named to the Sonoma County Horse Council’s Equus Hall of Fame. From that article: “She owns and houses several retired horses, but her current focus is a six year old Hanoverian named Drambuie.”
Understatement of the year… apparently she’s been so focused on the youngster, she forgot to feed the oldies at home!
These are pictures of the retired horses taken this past weekend.
The two horses are now in the care of Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue. We spoke with the rescue’s founder, Betsy Bueno, about the horses she rescued, how they’re doing and the story behind it all.
Apparently, Animal Control first contacted Gwen about the condition of her horses back in October 2010. Betsy tells us that a source who wishes to remain anonymous witnessed three horses on Gwen’s property. One horse disappeared over the winter, its fate is uncertain. (Though it’s probably safe to assume it didn’t suffer from complications related to obesity!) According to the complaint, at this point both Valerie (the bay) and Sister (the black) had Henneke body scores around three.
What happened in the following year isn’t clear. What we do know is that very recently Gwen arranged to move these two horses off her property to a home in Willits, CA where they were to be companion animals. Upon seeing the condition of their new companion animals, this home got animal control involved and signed the two mares over to LHASHR. Kudos to them!
Sister still has a body score of about three and will likely make a full recovery. Valerie, on the other hand, has dropped to about a one and has a heart murmur. She’s very much touch and go. Betsy had an independant vet come out to give them a full examination. It was determined that all their health issues were caused solely by starvation/malnutrition. Had these horses received even the most basic of care, they most likely would be happy and healthy retirees.
“Just because I’m old, doesn’t mean I need to be
skinny a walking skeleton!”
This sort of crap makes us sick. Betsy confirmed that at least one of these horses was one of Gwen’s retired show mounts. All horses deserve to be treated well in their old age, but it’s especially disturbing when one has helped its owner achieve so much, only to be neglected to this degree. We know it can be a challenge to keep older animals at an ideal weight, but letting them slowly starve to death is never an acceptable option!
For the time being, the case has been handed over to the DA to file charges where, under California law, what Gwen is being accused of is a felony and she could face jail time.
Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue has been around for awhile, but only recently applied for (and received!) its 501.C3 Non-Profit status. If you live in Sonoma County, on October 30th they will be holding their first annual fundraiser Hooves, Hearts and Heroes, with a BBQ, wine tastings, silent auction and more. Let’s help them make the rest of these two mares’ lives as happy and healthful as possible!