RACEHORSE ABUSE AND COVER-UP IN NATCHITOCHES, LA…
For all of you who are following the tragedy in Natchitoches, LA – there are still horses at 1955 Williams Ave, Natchitoches, LA and at this time it appears that they will remain there. It seems like an army of individuals have been working effortlessly trying to save these poor animals to no avail. Calls, e-mails, texts, and twitts have gone out starting with the Animal Control Department all the way up the ladder to the Governor of Louisiana, we have contacted the national news media from ABC to NBC and CNN even the National Enquirer. We have even sent e-mails and twits to Anderson Cooper to name a few.
One point that I would like to make is that not everyone on the LTBA Board was aware of what has been happening at the Ryder Ridge River Farm a year ago. Some, actually, were not made aware of the matter until my original post regarding this matter. If you look at the LTBA Board Members who are on the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association’s Board, those are the ones who knew.
What we have learned is that no one seems to have the authority to go in and seize these animals except the Sheriff’s Department who seems to find it beneficial to support Clay Ryder and to allow horses to die. We have also found out that the DA of Natchitoches, LA lives, per Google .02 miles in other words 23 seconds away from the Ryder property. Is there a good-old-boy cover up going on????
The Natchitoches Times reported on January 26, 2013 that Sheriff Victor Jones, Jr. “has been investigating complaints of animal abuse at Ryder’ River Ridge Horse farm for over a year and have been working with the son of the owner to improve conditions there.” It is further reported that “Jones said there were 150 thoroughbred horses on 60 acres at the farm, an area too small to support that number of horses.” I have received reports from two independent sources that claim the number of horses on this property was closer to 200.
The article goes on to say that after Jones assigned Deputy Rob Walsworth to the case and after the farm was visited by a state veterinarian and representative of the LA Brand Commission “Clay Ryder began working with officials to improve the conditions and began taking some of the original 150 horses to rescue facilities.” As I have stated in previous post we were aware that Clay Ryder had agreed to work with officials and had originally agreed to surrender 20 horses to the LHRA when in fact he only surrendered 8 of the original 20 horses. In an e-mail dated January 19, 2013 Sunny Francois, Executive Director of LHRA stated “…Of the original 20 promised 8 were received; after which point the spring grass was coming up…” So immediately we see that we have over populated acreage, we have an owner who didn’t even follow through with his first promise and a horse rescue that believes the spring grass from over populated acreage will be enough for now between 142 and 192 horses to survive.
The Natchitoches Times further goes on to state “ Walsworth made about 20 visits to the farm during the last year with the last on being Dec. 8. “Some of the horses were down in weight but there was nothing alarming,” Jones said. “And Clay was working with Rob and did everything we asked him to do.” Below are pictures of some of the horses as of January 15, 2013.
Ask yourself and then ask others “is Deputy Walsworth blind, what was the Sheriff’s Department asking Clay Ryder to do and what was he doing”. A horse does not get in this condition in thirty days.
The Natchitoches Times also states that “LA State Police then met with Jones and Walsworth and requested they arrest Ryder. Jones said he told them he would not arrest Ryder because of his past cooperation.” My question to Sheriff Jones is; “WHAT COOPERATION?”
Bottom line according to the Natchitoches Times, Sheriff Jones is giving Ryder “another 30 days to improve the conditions and step up the efforts to get rid of the horses, to which Ryder agreed”. There needs to be an accounting of where the horses have gone or are going. Ryder does not need the opportunity to just move them to a different property.
We know there were approximately 150 to 200 horses on the property in January 2012, per Jones, and that there are about 57 horses still on the property as of January 2013, per Jones. Let recap Ryder’s cooperation:
January 2012 150 – 200 horses on Ryder River Ridge Farm
February 2012 8 horses turned over to LHRA 20 promised
March 2012 0 horses turned over
April 2012 0 horses turned over
May 2012 0 horses turned over
June 2012 0 horses turned over
July 2012 0 horses turned over
August 2012 0 horses turned over
September 2012 0 horses turned over
October 2012 0 horses turned over
November 2012 0 horses turned over
December 2012 0 horses turned over
January 5, 2013 18 horses turned over to LHRA
January 17, 2013 7 horses turned over to LHRA
January 19, 2013 14 horses turned over to LHRA
Well 57 horses plus 47 horses equals 104 horses. What happened to the remaining 46 to 96 horses? Did they die? DID 46 to 96 HORSES DIE DURING THE PAST 11 MONTHS?
The LSU Ag Center Research and Extension has a narrative in which the state in part:
The state’s race horse industry was made up of 1,221 breeders who owned 8,897 mares that produced 7,698 foals that were sold in 2011 for $61.6 million. A total of 90 breeders own 832 stallions that were bred to 10,446 mares, generating income from stud fees of $26.1 million. The total gross farm income generated from race horse production was $117.9 million. In addition, 2,390 race horse owners had 14,329 horses with a gross farm value of $171.9 million. Total gross farm value of the race horse sector was $259.6 million in 2011, not including receipts or fees from racing events or gaming.
To read the entire narrative click here: LSU Ag Center Narrative
Not being a resident of the State of Louisiana I do not understand how a state that prides itself on their thoroughbreds can allow them to die from starvation. We are aware that the Sheriff’s Department, Police Department, Animal Control, Humane Society, District Attorney, Attorney General, Governor and many others are aware of what has been taking place for the past twelve months.
THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN. – 2012 Many, LA 60 horses seized unknown number dead, 2013 Natchitoches, LA 40 to 90 horses missing possibly dead. What will we hear about in 2014.
I was so hoping that with the publicity of the “Many 60” incident I would not hear about another farm with those conditions for a while, but I was wrong. The Many horses were seized on January 7, 2012 and by January 22, 2012, I was already hearing about another farm in the same vicinity, Natchitoches, LA. My mistake was trusting that something was being done to protect these horses, after personally speaking to and reporting the incident to Animal Control, Humane Society, Sheriff’s Department and Police Department along with speaking to LHRA, and knowing that the Louisiana Horse Racing Association was aware of what was happening at this farm.
A little over two weeks after the seizure of the 60 horses in Many, LA, I was contacted regarding a Thoroughbred Horse Farm in Natchitoches, LA. For those of you unfamiliar with Louisiana, Natchitoches is maybe a 40 minute drive from Many, Louisiana. This first call was from a Natchitoches residence that had read my article about the Many 60 and was wondering if the horses from Natchitoches had gone to Remember Me Rescue in Texas. Being told, by the resident that five of the horses had gone to Texas, I believed that the Natchitoches horses were being monitored and arrangements had been made for those horses safety and not knowing the severity of the situation I concentrated on the Many 60 incident. Boy was I surprised when I received another request, on January 31, 2012, to look into the Natchitoches horses by yet another concerned horse lover and was provided pictures of a couple of the horses.
The farm in question was the Ryder River Ridge Farm, located on William Road in Natchitoches, LA. This farm is owned by Fiaral L Ryder who has been a part of the Thoroughbred Association for at least 17 years. The Farm Subsidy report shows that F. Clay Ryder owns 25% of the farm and Ashley Ryder owns 75% of the farm. Ryder River Ridge Farm in the past has had a very reputable reputation. Mr. Fiaral Ryder was very involved with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Association and Thoroughbred Charities of America (http://www.tca.org/test.html). Ryder River Ridge Farm is listed in Thoroughbred Times, Stallion Directory and owned two of the Top Sellers 2011 Louisiana Annual Yearling Sales. It is reported that this farm is home to over 100+ horses.
At the time this matter had been originally brought to my attention, I was informed that Mr. Fiaral Ryder is an elderly gentleman, in ill health, and whose son Clay Ryder along with his business partner Adam Janick were taking over the farm operations and there were rumors that he, Clay Ryder, was attempting to sell the farm. Clay Ryder has been reported to have told individuals that he was sending five horses to Texas and donating the remainder of the horses. In reality it appears that Clay Ryder is following Mr. Ford’s example and placing healthy horses where people can see them and has refused assistance with placing the horses. He is forcing authorities to work on gathering information and proof in order to obtain a search warrant and ultimately seize the horses who survive this ordeal.
In late February or early March of 2012, I was informed that Mr. Ryder had agreed to deliver some of the horses to LHRA and that there were to be follow-up visits to his farm to inspect the conditions of the remaining horses. I was ensured that there were now procedures in place to monitor these horses so I agreed to not proceed with posting a blog regarding this matter, that was my mistake.
With the condition of the horses being in question and the pictures that I received, a year ago, there is no telling how many horses have perished during the past year.
It is now January 15, 2013 and this farm is still operating and from what I am hearing there are still horses dead and dying. I am personally aware that the Natchitoches Parish Humane Society, the Natchitoches Animal Control, the Sheriff’s Department and the Police Department along with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Association and the LHRA have been made aware of the conditions of the horses. I know that there have been joint meetings with all of these groups discussing this matter.
All I can say is shame, Shame, SHAME, on all of those individuals and organizations who have been aware of this matter for over a year and promised to follow-up but did not. I will not make the same mistake again, I will not trust when someone says there are actions in place and to please not post a blog.
One year ago today, some 60 horses were seized from C & S Farms owned by Mr. Charles Ford, in Many, Louisiana. When those involved with the rescue arrived at the farm they found devastation, dead and dying horses and dogs. These animals had been neglected and starved to death. It was heart breaking to see the carnage and destruction caused by Mr. Ford’s actions or should I say lack of actions. Approximately 85% of the horses seized on January 7, 2012 were able to be saved and are alive today and in happy places. These horses suffered from and were treated for dehydration, malnutrition, internal parasites, skin conditions and pneumonia along with other problems.
Mr. Ford has plead not guilty to the many felony charges; one count for each horse or other animal that died as a result of starvation and abuse; and numerous misdemeanors filed against him. It is reported that his attorney has requested that the felonies be reduced to misdemeanors but, thankfully, the DA’s office refused. The jury trial for Charles Ford is set for January 22, 2013. There will be no punishment great enough for Mr. Ford, but I believe that his sentence should be creative, he should have to spend his days working to pay for all the expenses incurred by those who were involved in the rescue and for all those currently taking care of these horses while spending his evenings and nights in jail, for years to come. He should also be banned from ever owning a horse of any type ever again. He should be banned from having anything to do with horse racing.
William (Bill) Young, was the trainer at Mr. Charles Ford’s farm and I believe he should take some responsibility for what occurred. I understand that he didn’t own the land or the horses but he could have reported the problem earlier, he could have alerted the owner’s of the horses who were entrusted to Mr. Ford’s care, especially since he was in contact with at least one owner, he could have gone to the authorities himself. I am aware that there is a question as to when the abuse was first reported and how that played into the devastation, but the reports did not come from Mr. Young who would have had firsthand knowledge and would have been considered a knowledgeable person.
The monies it has cost to care for and rehabilitate these horses is currently in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The time that has been spent to form bonds and for these horse to regain their trust in humans is hundreds of hours all filled with love, patients and care. Some horses have had to undergo surgeries, while most have had to be on special diets until their systems regained their strength and became accustomed to food. Some of the horses took to human contact and love quickly while others had to learn how to trust all over again. Some of these horses are being trained in other disciplines while others will only be pasture friends, because of their health issues.
There have been so many people who have worked hundreds of hours during the past twelve months to ensure the well being of these horses and a few that I would like to specifically mention, because, I believe that without them none of these horse would be here today. I would like to thank Sunny Francois with Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and Donna Keen with Remember Me Rescue, and to Dr. Mirza and his students from Louisiana State University Veterinary School.
It is hard to write this follow-up because it turned out that this was not the isolated incident I thought it was, but it was the first one where I was on the scene. During the past twelve months I have learned so much about the Race Horse Industry, and yes it is an industry. I have received a number of calls and e-mails regarding other race horses being neglected and found that it is almost impossible for individuals or rescue groups to take action. If the owner doesn’t relinquish the horses voluntarily then there must be such a public outcry before anything gets done. I have received pictures of dead and dying horses, have called police departments, sheriff departments, neighboring farms all the time giving the owner the opportunity to remove evidence of abuse and neglect. There are inspectors and horse racing officials who know about these incidences but the abuse continues.
If you want your voice heard in this matter you may send a letter to Judge Stephen Beasley, c/o District Attorney Don Burkett, District Attorney’s Office, 495 South Capital Street, Many, LA 71449. Please write “Attn: Karen Williams” on the outside of the envelope. Your letter must be received prior to January 22, 2013.
Hi all, they call me Lil’ Bit here in Alvord, Texas. I was found by the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and Remember Me Rescue in Many, Louisiana, along with about 68 of my friends. That place in Many, LA was called C & S Farms. They didn’t take real good care of me and my friends, but those of us who made it out of that horrible place are now happy, eating regularly, have a clean place to sleep and a safe place to play.
When we were first found I must admit that I was real scared of all these people who showed up. There were people taking my pictures, touching me, putting this cold thing on my chest and belly trying to listen to my insides, it was real scary but they also brought us food which made things better. Then they started putting us in trailers and we were on the move, this scared me a lot. I didn’t know where I was going but there were a couple of my friends with me so we tried to reassure each other that this was a good thing. When we finally stopped we were at Remember Me Rescue in Burleson, Texas. My buddy Ransom told me everything would be alright but I wasn’t as trusting as he is. At RMR our lives began to change, you see that is where we meet Lilly. Lilly feed and talked to us each day and every day.
Then one day Lily told me and my friend Ransom that we were going stay with her friend Amanda in Alvord, Texas. We were loaded on a trailer again and I must admit that I was scared. Ransom tried to act like he wasn’t scared but I know he was. The ride to Alvord wasn’t that bad, and when we got there boy was it nice.
Amanda is our foster mom and we now have a foster grandma, Patty. We are so lucky; Amanda and Patty come out to see us each and every day. We get feed on a regular basis and we get to play, but like all moms’ and grandmas’ they make us behave. I keep an eye on everything though.
This here is my friend Ransom, he is such a ham. Really he is my rock and keeps me from being so scarred. Ransom is more outgoing than I am. He is also more trusting. Ransom has grown a lot in the past two months and people say that I have grown too. I don’t know about that but I do know that I am not hungry all the time anymore. Our home in Alvord is really nice
Mom and Grandma have told Ransom and me that we have to learn our manners and we are working at it, there is just so much to learn. I love my foster mom and grandma very much but I still get scared when new people come around. They always tell me it is okay, but it is very scary. I think I did real good today when the lady came out to take our pictures I let her touch me and you know what I realized mom might be right so I let her pet and love me a lot. I don’t think she got a picture of that though.
I have also found out that I love having my hair brushed. When I was found my hair hadn’t been brushed in a really long time and my coat had rain rot. I realized that I can get my hair brushed more often if I go and play in the dirt. Mom and Grandma always want me to look my best so they will brush away all the dirt.
Ransom likes playing with Mom. They keep talking about this thing being broke and I am not so sure about that, it doesn’t sound so good, but hey what do I know. For Mom and Grandma I will give it a try.
Hey did I tell you about our other friends out here in Alvord. There are these two things they call kids, one has hair that is the same color as mine and the other has darker hair like Ransom. These kids come out and play with us and give us a lot of love also. We are told that we have to behave around them and to be careful and we try, so far so good. There are also a lot of other horses out here. Ransom gets to play with one of them and when I stop being so scared I will get to play to, but right now I like just watching.
Ransom and I would like to say thanks to everyone with Louisiana Horse Rescue, Remember Me Rescue, Lilly, Mom Amanda, and Grandma Patty.
Here are some other pictures of Ransom, look at those big ears. Please don’t tell him that I posted the pictures of his ears, I think he may be a little sensitive about their size.
A little over three weeks ago there was the seizure of 60+ horses in Many, LA. After asking numerous times as to the status of criminal charges and being told that no one knows the status I decided to call the District Attorney’s office myself. I spoke with Don M. Burkett, District Attorney for the 11th Judicial District Court. Mr. Burkett informed that “to date there were no charges filed” and there was no court date scheduled. He informed me that usually a formal investigation is performed by the sheriff’s department or state police but this matter is primarily being handled by the Sabine County Humane Society and volunteers who are now putting the information together. He further told me that LSU Vet School is preparing an individual report on each animal and he does not have those reports yet. When he gets all the information he will make a decision as to how he is going to proceed. Anything less than a capital offense he will most likely file a bill of information but he has not made a definite decision not to put it in front of a grand jury first.
Mr. Burkett went on to say that once it is determined what the charges are and if they intend to file a bill of information, Mr. Ford will be notified to come to court for arraignment, at which time he will probably plead not guilty. Depending on what grade of felony or misdemeanor he is charged with would determine how fast this matter went to trial. If the charges are misdemeanors Mr. Ford will be in court relatively soon if the charges are felonies he could not say when Mr. Ford would be in court.
When ask how he thought he would charge Mr. Ford, I was told that the law says that there can be a separate count on each animal but he is not going to try to just generate a lot of paper work. “I may group the charges by severity.” Mr. Burkett also told me that the main focus has been on the horses but there were dogs, some who were dead, and other livestock on the property, which he also must take into consideration.
Mr. Burkett says he has given a lot of thought to this matter, but doesn’t have the files needed to proceed. He further indicated that Mr. Kelly, from the Sabine Humane Society, was in his office yesterday and that Mr. Kelly “appeared to be a rather prompt kind of a guy” and would be diligent in his follow-ups.
During our conversation Mr. Burkett also indicated that he had received a number of calls on this matter; even a call from a Senator whose conversation went to the argument of outlawing the slaughtering of horses, comment being these horses could have gone to slaughter. Some see this situation as the platform for legalizing horse slaughter houses.
Mr. Burkett further stated that this situation was not exclusive to Many, Louisiana and said that he has heard of people around the United States, who due to economic reasons are just opening their gates and letting their horses go, he has also heard that research centers are having to lock all gates and entrances to cotton, hay, and other fields to keep people from opening those gates and dropping off their horses.
Mr. Burkett went on to say that slaughtering horses is horrible but when the market condition is like it is today what do you do? He further stated, “this guy, Mr. Ford, was in the business of the construction of lake houses and wharfs and one day he went to an auction bought a horse made some money and then decided to go into the horse business. It is his understanding that a lot of the horses were not owned by Mr. Kelly but were there to be trained by Mr. Ford’s trainer”, William (Bill) Young. Mr. Burke then said “he did have a licensed trainer and “we will need to take a look at him, also.” He then went on to say that the LA Training Commission will probably yank his license and it’s not like Mr. Ford had some high dollar horses and people weren’t lining up to buy the colts.
Mr. Burkett stated that he “doesn’t think he (Mr. Ford) went into it with the intention of just breeding.” We ended our conversation with Mr. Burkett saying he will take the evidence he receives and will apply the facts to the law as they apply. He has no preconceived feelings or ideas and will wait for the facts.
With all of that said, I have asked the rescue associations and the persons fostering the Many 60 if they have heard from Mr. Burkett and the answer was a very loud “NO”. Mr. Kelly of the Sabine County Animal Shelter has been in touch with the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and has requested reports and documentation but the LHRA has not received one call from Mr. Burkett. Those fostering the Many 60 and LHRA and Remember Me Rescue would like to put a voice to those reports. The reports do not account for all of the hours of care that these horses are requiring nor do they list all of the monies that are necessary to care of them and future care and considerations are not addressed.
Throughout the last number of weeks I have spoken with, received e-mails and received facebook messages regarding the Many 60. There have been comments in support of and against the Sabine County Animal Shelter. There has been one area where all are in agreement and that is everyone feels the District Attorney will let this matter fall through the cracks and that Mr. Ford will not pay for his actions.