Brown County impounded race horses heading elsewhere

Farm Forum

The owners of six race horses impounded last year because they weren’t being properly fed have paid the cost to care for the animals.

That means the county won’t have to schedule an auction to sell the horses, said Larry Lovrien, Brown County state’s attorney.

Money from the auction would have been used to cover the cost of feeding and caring for the horses since they were taken into custody in November.

Foote Creek Stables has cared for the horses since they were impounded. Jennifer Bjorgaard, who owns the stables with her husband, said that the woman who owns five of the horses picked them up late on Feb. 12 when she dropped off a check made out to the county to pay for care-related costs.

The sixth horse was once co-owned by the woman and a man from out of town, Bjorgaard said. She said the man bought out his partner and will pick up the horse, named Army Officer, in the near future.

Bjorgaard said the other horses the stable had been caring for were Golden Cedar, Rapid Jack, Hot Foot Slew, Perspective Kiss and He Can Do That.

In November, the owner of another horse that had been impounded, named Storm Force Five, was picked up by its owner, according to court paperwork filed in conjunction with the impoundment.

Those documents say that Robert “Bobby” Haar was charged with caring for the horses before they were impounded. In all, Haar was caring for nine horses at Foote Creek Stables, according to the legal paperwork. It says the Brown County Sheriff’s Office was called to the stable on Nov. 9 after one of the horses apparently starved to death. A few days later, another horse died, according to the impoundment documents. That’s when the seven surviving horses were impounded.

Haar rented space at Foote Creek Stables, but was not an employee, those involved in the case have said.

In South Dakota, animal abuse is a misdemeanor. On Feb. 12, state lawmakers decided against creating a possible felony charge for animal abuse.

The cost of providing veterinary and other care to the horses was just shy of $13,000, Lovrien said. The county now needs to pay that money to Foote Creek Stables, he said.

He and Bjorgaard agree that the horses are now healthy. Bjorgaard said the stable supplemented the horses’ regular diet with vitamins and electrolytes while they were being nursed back to health.

Lovrien said that until the criminal case moves forward, there isn’t a way to ensure that the same trainer suspected of not giving the horses enough to eat is not caring for them. But, he said, that can be addressed in the criminal case. And, he said, the sheriff’s office has offered to keep an eye on the horses in the short term. If necessary, the horses could be taken back into custody, he said.

Foote Creek Stables offers two types of services, full-care and self-care. Under the self-care option, a person rents space at the stable and cares for the horses on his or her own. Haar had selected the self-care option, authorities have said.

Man charged in death of horses

Paperwork filed at the Brown County Courthouse said that Robert “Bobby” J. Haar, 23, improperly treated the horses by neglecting to properly feed and care for them. Each of the counts is a misdemeanor punishable by as much as a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Officials have said it cost just shy of $13,000 to care for the horses and nurse them back to health.