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Candler Horses Seized
A Candler stable operator denies mistreating two malnourished horses that were seized by Buncombe County Animal Control on Saturday evening.
Bill Smith of Cowboy Heaven Stables and the two horses' owners were charged with insufficient care, an ordinance violation. Smith says that the horses were in such poor condition when they came to him, he had to get them back to health before he could fatten them up, otherwise the horses could have become impacted, a condition where the horses digestive system becomes clogged.
"They've put on 30-40 pounds, I ain't gonna put it on them all at once, they're old horses, long-backed horses," said Smith.
The county was notified about the two horses when a passer-by saw them and took pictures of them. Smith has had as many as 11 other horses recently, and currently has another eight.
"I don't feel like I should be treated this way when I still have eight horses that are fine," said Smith.
Buncombe County Sheriff's Deputies searched the stables in Candler on Saturday evening, seizing the two horses, issuing the citations and putting the rest of the horses on a preventative measure plan that includes "a monitored feeding regimen, inclusive of specific food and a specified number of feedings per day...[and] also include veterinarian care," wrote Natalie Bailey, public information specialist for the Sheriff's Office in an email to News 13.
The previous owners of the stables had 12 horses seized in 2011. Smith says when he got the stables, they were filled with trash, needles and in terrible condition.
"I worked my tail off here, excuse the expression. I painted all the stables with livestock safe paint, redone all the stalls, sprayed the pastures, and even added 1.5 acres of pasture on the backside," said Smith.
He feels like he was treated as a criminal because of the history of the stables, even though he has only owned them since October of last year.
The court date for Smith and the horses' owners is set for December 9th. Bailey says the owners could get their horses back within the next month if they continue to cooperate with Buncombe County.