Malnourished Horses Seized from Chileno Valley Ranch

Well-known breeder is being investigated for abuse by the Marin Humane Society.

A West Marin horse breeder is being investigated by the Marin Humane Society after animal services officers found unsafe living conditions for horses at the breeder's ranch, the society said Friday.

Although the abuse case does not specify the location other than saying it is in unincorporated Chileno Valley area northwest of Novato, a website called Rate My Horse PRO is reporting that the breeder is Gray Fox Farms in unincorporated Petaluma.

Carrie Harrington, spokeswoman for the Marin Humane Society, said the society's animal services division officers found "serious neglect, injuries, unsafe and inhumane living conditions for horses living on the property" during a visit on Dec. 27.

One injured stallion was seized and is under 24-hour medical observation at an offsite location, she said. Another impounded horse, a malnourished mare, is also receiving rehabilitative care, she said.

The animal control officers are monitoring more than two dozen horses on the property ranging from foals, pregnant mares and stallions.

The breeds of horses at Gray Fox Farms include Hanoverians and thoroughbreds, according to its website. The farm breeds "quality warmbloods for the hunter market." It says the stallions have been carefully chosen in Europe and North America and will "produce an outstanding foal with winning conformation, talent and temperament."

Gray Fox Farms has made a national name for itself with Redwine as its lead stud. The stallion, which has has nearly 3,800 likes on its own Facebook page, is wildly popular in the sport horse world. In 2010, Redwine earned the U.S. Equestrian Federation award as a national leading breeding sire for hunters, a type of sport horse competition. The ranking is based on points earned in competitions.

On the Gray Fox Farms website, Redwine's stud fee is listed as $1,700. The 2012 leading hunter sire, Beste Gold, has a listed stud fee of $800. Also at stud at Gray Fox Farms is Romantic Star and Federalist, also with national reputations.

Phone calls to Gray Fox Farms did not go through on Friday.

“We take reports of any animal being abused and neglected very seriously,” said Cindy Machado, the animal services captain. “We need the public to help us in our efforts.”

Donations are being sought to cover expenses for medical treatment. People with knowledge of horse care can volunteer to assist in the care of the malnourished horses, the society said.

Also, Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance is operating an online auction that features the stallions from other famous breeders. Bidding is open and people can make monetary donations on the site that will aid the Marin Humane Society's efforts.

Anyone with information about horse neglect, including this case, is encouraged to contact investigators at 415-506-6209.

Patch's Lindsay Street contributed to this story.

Mary Lou Pitz Winn January 05, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Robert, it is "Gray Fox Farm" not "Grey Fox." Grey Fox is a very reputable farm in Florida.
Robert J. Cleek January 05, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Not surprised. With all the negative internet buzz Gray Fox Farm has been getting over the last year or so, I'm surprised Grey Fox Farm isn't suing them... or perhaps they have.
Tara Sullivan January 05, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Lots of background on this story at the Chronicle of the Horse forum. I guess I can't post a link, but if anyone is interested, Google will find the thread.
Sue Payne Farley January 07, 2013 at 04:56 AM
Another awful case of humans abusing animals!! If/when this abuse case is substantiated the owners should be made to cover ALL medical costs to bring these sweet horses back to health. And the owners should be locked up!
Coastallocal January 08, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Beste Gold is NOT owned by JILL BURNELL and has NOTHING to do with this! Please remove your incorrect statement. Also, I am sure CT horses would not want their photo associated with a neglect case. JILL BURNELL has a long history of defaults. The Petaluma farm was foreclosed on, and she has many open judgements against her, from feed stores, vets and others which she has not paid for her services. This can all be found by searching the Sonoma County Grantor / Grantee index online.


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