It could be “weeks or months” before it’s know if criminal charges will be filed in the training death of the reining horse, Bella Gunnabe Gifted, in California.
Investigators await the results of a necropsy performed on the reining derby horse. Dan DeSousa, Deputy Director for the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services tells us the agency is interviewing everyone involved and the process will take time “due to other factors involved.”
The six-year old quarter horse was purchased by Martha Torkington in June. The mare was in the training program of Mark Arballo and his girlfriend, Patrice Hohl, of Arballo Reining Horses. The pair worked out of The River Valley Ranch, in San Diego, owned by Torkington and her husband George Kiss.
Arballo is accused of leaving Bella “bitted up” in a curb bit, alone in a solid round pen, which led to her eventual demise. She was found lying on the ground, still tacked, her nose was mutilated and bleeding, and blood was coming out of her ear, according to an eyewitness. About two hours after she was found, she was humanely euthanized.
This isn’t the first time one of the trainer’s sessions ended with a horse dying. In June 2012, a witness saw a horse die after it was being lunged by Hohl, with its head tied when it reared over, according to animal control’s report. Hohl’s version of the event was vastly different. She said “the horse just collapsed and died.”[irp]
The report states authorities did not have a cooperating witness, and the horse’s body was decomposed by the time it was exhumed about a week after the horse’s death. Criminal charges were not filed because of the lack of evidence, according to DeSousa.
DeSousa said in any case where horse abuse is alleged, the best way to stop the abuse is in the court of law. “It isn’t always comfortable for witnesses, but animals can’t speak. If no one speaks, another animal might suffer a similar fate.”
Rate My Horse PRO continues its investigation for an in-depth report regarding allegations of abuse surrounding Arballo Reining Horses, alleged cover-ups, and questions concerning horses previously in Arballo’s training program. Stay with Rate My Horse PRO to get the latest regarding this case.