A second animal abuse charge has been filed in California against Mark Arballo stemming from his alleged maltreatment of the mare, Bella Gunnabe Gifted. The prosecutor’s office tells Rate My Horse PRO Arballo is accused of allowing his dog to bite Bella’s nose a month prior to her death.
The state’s complaint was amended Tuesday to include the misdemeanor. The parties were in court for Arballo’s preliminary hearing. He was originally charged with felony animal abuse, stemming from the death of the reining mare Bella. Arballo has pleaded not guilty.
Bella was a six-year-old mare owned by Martha Torkington. Arballo worked out of Torkington’s ranch, formerly known as The River Valley Ranch, and trained her horses. In September 2013, Arballo allegedly left Bella “bitted up” in a curb bit, alone in a solid round pen while he reportedly “taught two lessons and rode another horse.”
The sorrel Quarter Horse was discovered on the ground, still tacked, her nose mutilated, bleeding, and blood was coming out of her ear, according to an eyewitness. About two hours after she was found, she was humanely euthanized.
A San Diego County courtroom heard testimony from four state witnesses, including Bella’s owner a the time of her death, Torkington. A teenage riding student of another trainer also took the stand. The 16-year-old rider and trainer Bethany Wallace were the first to come to Bella’s aid after Arballo found her down.
Due to witness schedules and the day’s testimony running long, the preliminary hearing was continued. Arballo, who now lives in North Carolina, waived his right to an uninterrupted preliminary hearing. Testimony will resume on February 9th.
A judge will decide at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing if there is enough evidence for Arballo to stand trial.
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