Hayden Man Denies Abuse After Horses Are Taken Away

HAYDEN – A Hayden, Idaho man is speaking out after the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department took away all 10 of his horses.

The horses were rescued by the Panhandle Equine Rescue Wednesday morning, because the sheriff’s department says the animals were malnourished. The owner says he fed his horses and now wants them back.

Richard Reese says he would never abuse his horses, but the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department says that’s exactly what he did.

“We wouldn’t not feed these animals,” Reese says. “That just didn’t happen.”

Two dogs and two goats are all that’s left on Reese’s property after all 10 of his horses were taken away.

“Well, it was devastating for my wife, my children…absolutely devastating,” says Reese. “I’m in business in the area.”

The animals are now here at an undisclosed location, recovering from what the Panhandle Equine Rescue is calling severe malnutrition. One volunteer wrote that “the condition of his horses is heartbreaking. Not only are they emaciated with old unattended injuries, but they have matted hair and overgrown hooves. In my opinion, he is operating a ‘puppy mill’ for horses no one wants because of their poor quality”

Reese says that’s not true.

“We’re they malnourished? No,” Reese says. “Nothing sick, nobody down. Some mares were pregnant, of course.”

Kootenai County Animal Control first visited Reese last week. Together they came up with a plan to get the horses back on the right track.

When the animal control officer came back Wednesday morning, there were allegedly no improvements. Reese says he followed all the guidelines, including feeding the horses alfalfa supplements.

“Everyone has an opinion, so why did they do this?” Reese wonders. “They felt it was necessary, I guess. I don’t feel it was.”

Reese admits they were skinny, but insists that’s normal during the winter months. However, a volunteer for the equine rescue says had these horse not been rescued, they may have died.

“We’re not saying we’re perfect,” says Reese. “We’re saying not cruel to animals.”

Reese could now face animal abuse charges. He says he has an attorney and will fight to get those horses back.