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Valerie after arriving at the rescue in 2011.
California dressage trainer Gwen Stockebrand has agreed to relinquish ownership rights to her former mare as part of a deal that could lead to the dismissal of a single animal cruelty charge. The case, centering around the thoroughbred mare named Valerie, was scheduled to go to trial last Friday.
Valerie soon after she arrived at the rescue (left) and nine months after her arrival (right.)
Stockebrand must also complete 80 hours of community service and allow animal control onto her property at any time to inspect her animals. If Stockebrand completes the conditions, and stays out of trouble for the next year, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss the misdemeanor charge.
Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney says, “After reviewing all the evidence, we felt this was an appropriate disposition for this case. This resolution ensures the safety and well-being of Valerie, who will remain in the care of Lost Hearts and Souls Rescue. The periodic visits by Animal Care and Control to the defendant’s property will help ensure that any animals living there are well cared for.”
Valerie nine months after she arrived at Lost Hearts and Souls Rescue.
The rescue’s founder Betsy Bueno says she believes this is a victory, “she [Valerie] will live out her days here with us – she will never be hungry or cold again.”
In late December 2011, the former international dressage rider was charged with felony animal abuse for allegedly neglecting the mare from “June through August,” according to court records. The charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor. Attempts by Stockebrand’s defense to get the case dropped were not successful.
Maggie Weems, who is an equestrian, represented Stockebrand. We tried to reach Weems today, but did not receive a response.