Barney Brehmer, a Hurnville area stock producer, was ordered Wednesday to forfeit 30 malnourished bucking horses to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office during a civil hearing to determine the fait of the animals.
Brehmer, who owns Brehmer Rodeo LLC, will also pay $4,370 to reimburse the CCSO for care and boarding of the horses, plus court costs. Brehmer said he would not appeal the decision, made by Justice of the Peace John Swenson.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, County Attorney Seth Slagle said he is investigating the possibility of placing criminal charges against Brehmer for cruelty to livestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor. The horses range in age from 4-7 years.
The animals were discovered at about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13, when Deputy Mike Williams responded to a report of possibly two dead horses in a pasture on FM 1197 north of Henrietta. During Wednesday’s testimony, Williams said one of the two horses was found alive, but severely emaciated and could not get up. He found the “skeletonized” carcass of another horse. A stock tank on the property had adequate water, said Williams, but there was no standing vegetation in the pasture and he saw no signs of hay. The horses were later seized by the sheriff’s office.
Dr. Polly McDonald, a Henrietta veterinarian who inspected the animals Feb. 22, testified that all but one of the horses were malnourished and most showed signs of intestinal worms. Some of the horses also suffered from hair loss and skin conditions. McDonald, who sees more than 400 horses a year in her practice, said poor coat condition can often be a sign of poor nutrition.
“I had some financial issues, and perhaps I couldn’t afford as much hay as I would have liked to have had,” said Brehmer in testimony. “I’m not a bad person, I have other livestock on my ranch that I take care of.”
In his defense, Brehmer noted that on the day the horses were discovered, he was on his way home with a semi load of round bales of hay, and said he had two more loads spoken for. Once he arrived, he put out hay for the horses, and put down the animal that could not get up. The stock producer said the horse had been purchased in June from South Dakota, and did not acclimate to the Texas weather and would not eat.
Brehmer argued that though he had provided hay for the horses, including 150 small square bales purchased in January, and that his pasture had suffered due to the drought.
“Did you ever look into selling some of these horses to feed the ones you could afford?” said Slagle.
“No,” said Brehmer.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is required to sell the horses at public auction or donate the animals to a non-profit organization.