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Olympic Dressage Trainer Under Investigation for Horse Cruelty

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  • Originally posted by Moderator 1 View Post
    As there have now evidently been charges filed in this case, we've merged the various threads on the topic, including those previously taken offline pending confirmation, per our posting policies.

    Thanks ~
    Mod 1
    Rate My Horse PRO has not removed anything from Chronicle of the Horse. I believe this post from Mod 1, which is contained in this thread, will answer your allegations.

    Originally posted by CosMonster View Post
    If you're missing the alleged 3-week discrepancy, so am I. I have not seen that mentioned. My post was purely about this latest article.

    I also have a problem with disappearing posts. I'm a journalist (sort of--I wouldn't call myself that normally, but I do some freelance writing on current events, so I think it fits to a degree--at the very least I've taken a college course on journalistic ethics ) and IMO you should never erase your words. If you're wrong, you print an apology/correction. If you think the court verdict is wrong, you establish that with verifiable (even if inadmissable--there is a gray area there) evidence. Mistakes happen to the best of us. However, you can't just print whatever you want, promote it officially, and then erase it if you later find out you're wrong. Or rather, you can, but you can't retain credibility. If you hold yourself out as a professional news outlet as RMHP does, you are held to a different standard than a personal post would be, and that is a good thing IMO.
    No articles have been removed from Rate My Horse PRO and you can find a complete case summary on the site. You will also find every article written about the subject.

    In the majority of cases covered by our news team the official case documents are supplied to our users. This case is no different.
    Rate My Horse PRO®
    News | Equine Court | Background Checks | Ratings & Reviews


    • It did seem to me that a few posts were removed, but I'll happily admit I'm wrong--it is hard to keep track when threads are merged and the like.

      I still do have issues with RMHP's reporting of this and a few other cases I have come across, particularly since you are often the first search result and the major reporter. I know the case documents are posted and I do not think that you have done anything that is libelous or anything like that. I've defended you in this thread even.

      But that's old ground that we've covered through PMs and on other threads. I like what you guys are trying to do, just have some issues with how you're getting there. Just a personal quibble as you know.
      exploring the relationship between horse and human


      • fwiw, myself and many others i know would never use RMHP - it just doesn't have a good "feel" about it. Beyond that it is fee based and therefore not useful for many.

        To me it just is one more site along the lines of the mean spirited/gosspiy/negative sites that abound.


        • Originally posted by mbm View Post

          To me it just is one more site along the lines of the mean spirited/gosspiy/negative sites that abound.
          I think it goes farther than that RMHP is trying to hoist themselves up by bringing others down. Driving traffic to their site with gossip. All the while, they remain happily anonymous.

          What dogs.
          "Friend" me !



          • wait. they require someone to pay $$ " so there is accountability" and yet they aren't saying who they are?

            god the internet really is a crazy place!

            one of the things i chose long ago is to NOT support any web presence that is anonymous and that doesn't list who the owners are (including tel and address) in an easy to find place.


            • "All the while, they remain happily anonymous."

              They are not hiding from anyone and are not anonymous. This is from their website:

              Debbie Hanson is a native Virginian who came in to the horse world 17 years ago by means of her daughter. Shortly after her daughter became involved in showing horses, two horse trainers defrauded Ms. Hanson and stole her daughter's pony.

              Ms. Hanson’s response led to spearheading an extensive FBI investigation spanning several states, identified dozens of similar victims and resulted in federal felony convictions and prison sentences for the two individuals responsible for the fraud.

              Ms. Hanson has been advocating for victims of horse fraud and working for sales reform in the horse industry for more than a decade. She brought a bill before the Virginia General Assembly regarding transparency in sales and has lobbied on other horse issues as well.

              Ms. Hanson served on the Board of Directors for The Horse Owners’ Protective Association (HOPA), which was founded by the late Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables. She also served on the Board of Directors as the Communications Director for the Virginia Horse Council, and as an Ambassador for the Virginia Racing Commission.

              Ms. Hanson continues to volunteer her time working with victims of fraud in the horse industry.


              • I thought it said 3 weeks before...

                But the post from Watermark Farm, post #304 says she was at the hearings and was stated there, that it was 2 weeks between leaving GS's and arriving at the rescue....
                " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs


                • Today was the court date "To Quash." Does anyone know what transpired?


                  • Today was just handling discovery matters.

                    The next hearing information can be found here.

                    Happy Riding
                    Rate My Horse PRO®
                    News | Equine Court | Background Checks | Ratings & Reviews


                    • Good grief - RMHP charges a $5 sign up fee. That's hardly going to break anyone's budget. They provide access to many legal documents that would take individuals a long time to find on their own. And I feel their rating service is great. What is the alternative?

                      And Debbie Hanson should be applauded for going to the mat in her personal case and establishing the RMHP site. Many "Equine" magazines won't publish anything about legal issues regarding top names in our sport. Is that what people would prefer - no disclosure?
                      Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                      "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"


                      • I'm sure glad..

                        The Weekly Horse World News (aka RMHP) knows so much more than the Sonoma DA. Where would we be without their MADE-UP reporting.

                        Go to the DA's website to see NO SCHEDULED court dates..
                        " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs


                        • Originally posted by grandprixjump View Post
                          The Weekly Horse World News (aka RMHP) knows so much more than the Sonoma DA. Where would we be without their MADE-UP reporting.

                          Go to the DA's website to see NO SCHEDULED court dates..
                          No scheduled court date means the case hasn't been set for trial. That's what the pre-trial conference is for, is my best guess. They don't have the same info available online that my county clerk does, so I can't really tell you much more - I'm used to the case # being able to list what documents were filed when and by whom, but that's not obvious on their site (more power to you if you're willing to search for it). And even then, they don't list things like a trial scheduling conference, just trial date and when various documents are filed. And that's on civil cases - I don't deal with criminal ones, but I'd imagine things are kept closer to the chest in those for everyone's safety.


                          • Originally posted by grandprixjump View Post
                            The Weekly Horse World News (aka RMHP) knows so much more than the Sonoma DA. Where would we be without their MADE-UP reporting.

                            Go to the DA's website to see NO SCHEDULED court dates..
                            The Sonoma County District Attorney website has been updated with the same information Rate My Horse PRO provided on April 11. Rate My Horse PRO's information regarding the date came directly from the prosecutor.

                            I'm sure the county is busy with many cases.
                            Rate My Horse PRO®
                            News | Equine Court | Background Checks | Ratings & Reviews


                            • Originally posted by Promise No More View Post
                              Interesting that Dr. Madigan is testifying on Gwen's behalf. He is heavily involved with large animal, particularly equine, welfare, on many levels and I respect him greatly. He is truly an expert in the field. He is a paid expert witness, but from the times I have spoken and worked with him I cannot imagine he would accept payment if he didn't believe he was doing the right thing.
                              Dr. Madigan is highly respected, as is Dr. Henneke. Both men are choosing to get involved on the side of the defendant. I believe this speaks volumes to any who will listen.

                              Dr. Miller has been active in the seizure arena since 2006, shortly after graduating from Davis. He is the principle author of the UC Davis "minimum standard of care" published claiming to be a legal document, when it is not.

                              I don't question the background and experience of Madigan and Henneke...but I do Miller. It would be interesting to know if he received scholarship money for vet school from any anti-animal ownership organizations. Just curious.


                              • Originally posted by Briska View Post

                                I don't question the background and experience of Madigan and Henneke...but I do Miller. It would be interesting to know if he received scholarship money for vet school from any anti-animal ownership organizations. Just curious.
                                Well, duh! You disagree with him, so of course you'll question his background and experience.

                                Aren't you one of Leo Maxwell's internet investigators? Can't you investigate Miller's educational debts yourself?


                                • Mine is a reasonable question...what harm an answer?


                                  • As to questioning background and experience; that's what happens in a court of law.

                                    I am looking forward to Madigan vs Miller; one boasts a lifetime of helping people help animals and the other...well, we'll just have to wait and see.


                                    • Originally posted by Briska View Post
                                      Mine is a reasonable question...what harm an answer?
                                      Nothing reasonable has ever been associated with the company you keep.

                                      Things slow on ABN and The Speakeasy?


                                      • Originally posted by Briska View Post
                                        Dr. Miller ... He is the principle author of the UC Davis "minimum standard of care"
                                        ahhhh yes, the idiot that says we have to have minimum stall sizes
                                        16h horse needs 13.25 x 13.25

                                        <I'm betting 95% of those supporting Dr Miller can't meet that standard.>

                                        What a wackjob. All the defense needs to do is to visit and get statements of all those CA barns keeping 16-17h horses in 12x12s to discredit him as being WAYYY over the top.

                                        Older barns are lucky if they even have that as the old "standard" was 10x10.


                                        • The latest:

                                          Santa Rosa Equestrienne Offered Deal in Horse Abuse Case
                                          Press Democrat, May 31 2012

                                          Santa Rosa equestrienne offered deal in horse abuse case
                                          By PAUL PAYNE
                                          THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
                                          Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
                                          Last Modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.

                                          Prosecutors offered Thursday to drop a remaining misdemeanor animal neglect charge against a former Santa Rosa Olympic equestrienne accused of starving a thoroughbred horse nearly to death.

                                          In exchange, Gwen Stockebrand, 57, would agree to perform 100 hours of community service, her lawyer Margaret Weems said.

                                          Stockebrand, who was originally charged with felony animal cruelty of a 30-year-old mare named Valerie, has not decided if she will accept the offer.

                                          She maintains her innocence and may seek a complete vindication of allegations that have soiled her reputation and led to death threats, her lawyer said.

                                          “It’s been very ugly,” Weems said. “I don’t know why they prosecuted this.”

                                          Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney said the offer doesn’t mean prosecutors believe Stockebrand did nothing wrong. The charge would be dismissed only after Stockebrand completes community service and agrees to animal welfare inspections for the next year, Nanney said. In addition, Stockebrand must agree the horse will not be returned to her.

                                          The original felony was reduced after a March preliminary hearing by Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite, who questioned the strength of the evidence.

                                          Stockebrand, a member of U.S. equestrian teams that competed in the Olympics, world championships and the Pan American Games, was charged in December with depriving a horse of care on her Santa Rosa ranch.

                                          The allegations came to light after an investigation by Sonoma County animal control officers found she tried to give two emaciated horses to a ranch in Willits.

                                          Veterinarians said Valerie lost hundreds of pounds and recommended she be euthanized.

                                          But the horses were turned over to Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue. Valerie was saved but the other horse, Sister, later died. Stockebrand wasn’t charged in Sister’s death.

                                          At the preliminary hearing, experts for both sides disagreed about whether either horse had been malnourished.

                                          A prosecution witness said Valerie was reduced to skin and bones through Stockebrand’s neglect. A defense witness testified the horse was old but healthy and possessed angular features that made it appear underweight.

                                          In her ruling, Thistlethwaite said the evidence supported a misdemeanor charge but would likely fall short at trial.

                                          Stockebrand believes animal rescue operators bear some blame for Sister’s death. Betsy Bueno, president of Lost Hearts and Souls, called the accusation “insane” and said UC Davis confirmed Sister died of an unrelated medical condition. Bueno nursed Valerie back to health, she said.

                                          Meanwhile, Judge Peter Ottenweller gave Stockebrand until June 18 to accept the offer or set a trial date.

                                          Stockebrand, who was named to the Equus Hall of Fame in 2010 by the Sonoma County Horse Council, might accept if she’s allowed to work with animals as part of her community service, Weems said.

                                          “There is a lot of educating that could be done,” Weems said.