Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Injured saddlebreds continue to improve

By Murray Evans
The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The five American saddlebreds deliberately injured late last month are showing steady, if slow, improvement, a veterinarian treating the show horses said Monday.

Carol McLeod said the condition of all five horses - Wild Eyed and Wicked, Cats Don't Dance, Meet Prince Charming, Kiss Me and Sassational - improved over the weekend.

Wild Eyed and Wicked, the most seriously injured of the five, "hasn't taken any steps back in the last two days," McLeod said. Wild Eyed and Wicked is an 11-year-old gelding that won the American saddlebred industry's Triple Crown in 2000 and 2001.

"Every day that we see improvement, we're gratified," McLeod said.

Kentucky State Police are still investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made. Trooper Ronald Turley of the state police's Frankfort Post said "we don't have anything new" regarding the investigation.

The horses, which are stabled at Double D Ranch in Versailles, suffered the life-threatening injuries after an unknown substance was injected into their left front legs. The horses showed severe swelling in their legs up to their shoulders when they were checked in their stalls on June 30.

Lexington-based USA Equestrian, the national governing body of equestrian competition, is offering a reward for information on those who injured the saddlebreds. At least $100,000 has been pledged to the reward fund, USA Equestrian president Alan Balch said.

Making pledges to the fund along with USA Equestrian and the American Saddlebred Horse Association are the United Professional Horsemen's Association of Lexington, owners of the attacked horses and other private individuals, including Double D Ranch owners Dave and Dena Lopez.

The American Saddlebred Horse Association, also based in Lexington, is setting up another fund to help pay for the care of the injured horses. The size of that fund, which will be overseen by the association's foundation, has not been announced, as donations still are being sought, said Dede Gatlin, the association's advertising manager and technical coordinator.

"We have had an ocean of support helping us," Dave Lopez said. "People have been absolutely wonderful. We just need to catch these criminals. What they did to those poor horses was awful."


On the Net

USA Equestrian: www.equestrian.org

American Saddlebred Horse Association: www.asha.net

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