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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Facebook horse posts hit

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The moderator of a Facebook page containing posts about allegedly-malnourished horses at a farm west of Shelbyville was ordered Tuesday to remove some comments and calm posters or face possible arrest.

But negative posts poured onto several other Internet message boards while Robin Swindle, owner of the horses, claimed the Tennessee Walking Horse industry holds a vendetta against her and said authorities have cleared her of any alleged wrongdoing.

Several persons, who identified themselves to the T-G but asked not to be publicly named for fear of reprisal, said they were disappointed with the response of county extension agent John Teague to the alleged mistreatment of the horses.

And the owner of a horse training and boarding facility said Swindle had not properly fed horses kept there last year.

Net talk quietened

Bradley Dick, moderator of a Facebook page entitled "Bradley Dick's Chat Group for TWH," was told by Sheriff Randall Boyce at mid-afternoon Tuesday to get commenters under control.

"That's a fact," Boyce said when asked if he'd talked to Dick. "He was told that what he was doing was illegal and that if he didn't stop he would be charged.

"The (judicial) commissioner and DA's office said they were going to charge him with causing people mental anguish," based on what Boyce described as a new state law passed in January, "if you intimidate someone and cause them to fear for their life."

Dick posted a message to the page after Boyce left his home.

"He assured me that the situation regarding the horses on Highway 64 are at his full attention and they are doing the maximum of what the law permits," Dick wrote.

"The situation is going through the proper channels and if the people do not take care of their horses further action will be taken, but as of right now, they are being fed and taken care of and they have said they will continue to do so."

Swindle commented to the T-G shortly after Dick's post.

"If the lies, false information, etc, are not removed from his site, I have been advised to swear out a warrant against him," Swindle said.

Malnourishment alleged

The owner of a horse training and boarding facility alleged Swindle wasn't regularly feeding horses kept there last year.

"I kicked off her my farm," Larry Lowman, co-owner of Bridlewood Farm, said Tuesday. "Everybody tried to help her. They were feeding them at odd times if at all.

"I had many, many talks with her about what was going on."

Lowman said finances led to his request for Swindle to remove the horses.

"They had 15 horses and it was hard for me to pay for feeding them. So then I asked her to move."

Teague visited the farm last year to look at the horses, Lowman said, and stated the horses did not need to be removed.

State law requires a county extension agent or veterinarian to confirm problems with large animals, such as horses, before law enforcement agencies can take action.

Swindle has told investigators the horses now at her home were underfed when purchased and she is trying to nurse them back to health.

Several individuals took photos of the horses from Highway 64 in front of her home and have alleged lack of care. The horses are no longer visible from the highway.

Teague criticized

Two individuals who are familiar with the horses at Swindle's current home said they met with Teague and were disappointed with his response. Both asked not to be publicly identified.

"We went to his office and got a kind of 'don't want to deal with it' response," one said. "He said 'no comment' when asked about the horses. We finally got him to talk a little bit and he said that they needed to be put down."

Another person who said she talked with Teague told the T-G in a separate conversation that Teague had said the horses should be euthanized. "That's not what an ag director is supposed to do."

Teague looked at the horses "a couple of weeks ago" and again "two days ago," when, she said, he told her he thought he saw "a slight bit of improvement."

Swindle's view

Swindle posted comments on a message board Tuesday night.

"Animal Control, along with the AG Dept of TN has inspected the horses, with a qualified vet, not once, but twice. AT NO TIME WERE CHARGES OR EVEN A FOLLOW-UP BROUGHT AGAINST ME. [Capitalization hers]. The charges/complaints were UNFOUNDED."

She said "animal control" has copies of veterinary receipts, feed bills and immunization records.

"This has been a personal vendetta started by the Tennessee Walking Horse people. Why? I wish I knew. Maybe it is because I won the International the night before the first allegations were made ...The entire Walking Horse Industry is against me, which I find funny since I do not own a single walker any longer.'