North Texas Horses. Photo: Kay Marie.

300 North Texas horses find a home: Christmas miracle or charade?

North Texas Horses. Photo: Kay Marie.
PHOTO CREDIT: KAY MARIE. A reported 300 North Texas horses find they are unwanted after their home of 10 years is sold to game ranchers for deer hunters.

Source report entitled “A Christmas miracle: 300 North Texas horses find a new home
Cross-posted from Austin Culture Map

WRITTEN BY SHELLEY SEALE

The Olympian Ranch in North Texas has sold to a new owner — which wouldn’t be uncommon or news at all, except for one fact: The property has been home to 300 heritage horses, which have been living on the land for 10 years.

New property owners Janice and Ricky Beard of Rock Enterprises had been trying to figure out what to do with the horses. The Beards closed on the land but did not actually own the horses until December 21. They were open to selling them to interested parties, including rescue groups, but first had to round up the animals to assess their number and condition.

Joan and Bob Richards owned the 5,000-acre spread, located 60 miles west of Fort Worth, for nearly 20 years. There they bred miniature and heritage show horses, some of which have become world champions. “Here at Olympian Ranch, your dream horse is waiting,” states the website.

Bob Richards earned fame as a three-time Olympic athlete who won two gold medals and was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983 — the same year as Jesse Owens, Mark Spitz, Peggy Fleming and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). He was also the first athlete to be featured on the Wheaties box, in 1958.

Over the last few years, however, Richards has experienced significant health problems, which led to the sale of the ranch to the Beards. It has been reported that they plan to run the ranch as Laroca Range Whitetails, a game ranch for deer hunting. The Beards filed as Laroca Range, LLC with the Texas Secretary of State in November. They have closed on the property sale but have not taken possession of it yet.

What the Beards planned to do with 300 horses was unclear. Beyond keeping the animals themselves, options in such situations include selling them, giving them away or having them slaughtered.

Kay Marie, a 32-year-old horse trainer and worker, was hired by the Richards family in July to help care for the horses. She was recently let go, and the fate of the horses formerly in her charge was up in the air. Marie began networking with rescue groups and posting messages on Facebook about the situation.

“I have lost my job and my ability to be able to work closely and keep an eye on the horses and what’s going on there,” she wrote on Facebook. ”I am not allowed on the property anymore. I am no longer able to feed, care for or visit any of my old friends there that I’ve grown to love and vowed to help. I challenge the new owners to do the right thing.”

Her plea reached Shari Frederick, founder and president of Happy Horse Haven Rescue in Goldthwaite, Texas, through the National Equine Resource Network. Frederick had launched her own efforts to find new “responsible, financially stable, pre-approved adopters” for these horses, if necessary.

“For we rescuers our interest is, are there 300 horses? And do they no longer have a home and therefore need placement? I don’t care who you are or where you are, I always try to help,” Frederick said. “We save them, but then you have to put them somewhere. You have to find people to take them, to care for them and train them.”

Frederick found a buyer for the horses but still needed to find a place for them.

By Saturday, December 22, the Humane Society of North Texas had gotten involved. They picked up four of the heritage horses that day and will be taking in more in the near future.

“Laroca Range sought out our help with the placement of the horses they obtained just days ago with the purchase of property,” said Shelly Meeks of the Humane Society, who added that Laroca has been very cooperative.

“HSNT is assisting them with quality placement,” she said. “Laroca Range has released some horses to HSNT for that reason. They have helped with corralling and loading of these horses and are going to continue to do so. We are still evaluating these horses for any special needs.”

When we contacted Janice Beard by telephone last week, she said she had no official comment. “There is no comment to be made, because the horses don’t even belong to us yet.”

Word spreading about the sale and the involvement of rescue groups have created an unwelcome invasion of privacy. The Beards have been afraid for their employees as they attempted to round up and treat the horses.

The Beards were already working with the HSNT by the time the horses became their legal property, on December 21. Janice Beard confirmed by telephone that they have found a buyer for all the horses, a very “nice and responsible” man whom they checked out thoroughly and required to sign papers stating the animals would not be sold to a slaughter buyer.

“We are animal lovers,” she said. “We’ve been trying to do the right thing.”

Read full report >>

WE SAY

We hate to be naysayers or overly suspicious, but it is our business to gauge situations and ask the tough questions. A red flag goes up as soon as we see the words slaughter and horses together, especially when there is a sudden sale of hundreds of horses this time of year and in the current economic climate.

Considering that the Beards were willing to consider slaughter as an option, it would be very easy in our opinion to find a killer buyer behaving as a “nice and responsible” man willing to take them and sign a piece of paper stating he would not send these horses to slaughter. This is done all the time, as we sadly know.

It appears, according to the article, the purchase organized by the Beards was after Shari Frederick “found a buyer for the horses but still needed to find a place for them.”

The Beards say they checked their buyer out thoroughly, but this may be more of a Christmas charade than a Christmas miracle on the part of the buyer. No mention where the horses bought by the “nice and responsible” man are to live. If the sale is above board, why is that detail omitted from this Christmas story?

Thankfully, due to the caring and alertness of Kay Marie, some of these horses at least have found true sanctuary.

12 thoughts on “300 North Texas horses find a home: Christmas miracle or charade?”

  1. Thank you to all who are taking these horses under their wings, sorta speaking. It all sounds fishy to me….and I think that no land should be sold with livestock on it until provisions and proof of them are made known to the realators. Just my opionion. Good luck and God bless you all.

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  2. Be very suspicious of Kay Marie. I spoke with her and then no more contact even though I was trying to help. The person she said was a kill buyer, is not a KB but buys, trains and sells ranch horses. Something was not right with this whole situation.

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  3. Another thing that stands out is why was Kay Marie let go? It’s possible the Beards didn’t want anyone working for them that would rock the boat or object to where the horses went.

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  4. Just my opinion, but I also think the Beard’s are lying about who they sold these horses to. My thought is that if we can come together to buy all the Virginia Range wild horses that so far have gone thru auction, WHY CAN’T WE DO THE SAME THING HERE? Last report I heard from Kay Marie was they still wouldn’t tell her who bought these horses and right now she’s at kind of a loss to know what to do next. I don’t know if I’d trust the North Texas Humane Society……Can someone get Habitat for Horses in TX involved? I tried to contact them once about something and never got a reply, so maybe someone out there can get thru to them. If Kay could get a price we have to match, I KNOW we can match it. Only thing is, the horses have to have somewhere to go. Can we all come together on this and help Kay Marie and these 300 horses?

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    1. Maybe we can if we could find a temp place for them. Possibly Black Beauty Ranch in East Texas run by HSUS. If they had room. Also maybe talk to Jerry at Habitat for horses. He might have an idea.

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      1. Black Beauty sounds an excellent suggestion Paula. But the horses have been ‘sold’ already to the “nice man” and that seems to be the end of it but there are many who are trying to find out where they are.

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  5. 300 horses? Really, all at once! The last time NTHS got involved with a big issue was Hill County and what a mess that was. They paid the trucking company some money and the rest by giving them truck loads of horses. The guys were known kill buyers and took those horses straight to Presidio. Need their names? Be careful just because they have the word “humane” attached. Humane by normal standards doesn’t apply.

    New owners can sell, give or send there property to the scrap yard its there right. But knowingly doing it then claiming they aren’t is a moral issue not anybody elses right.

    If anyone has bought these all at once there name will soon be on the web. You can’t hide 300 horses.

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    1. Not just hunting deer. Breeding deer and trapping them on this ranch to sell hunting rights to others to come on the ranch and shoot the tame deer. It is disgusting, but is prevalent in Texas even w exotic animals. Sick. The last time that we had a governor that tried to fight it was Ann Richards. Rick Perry lives to breed animals in Texas for people to pay to shoot. Even burros are on his hit list.

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  6. It is Texas! Be very suspicious. And I might add… the animal loving Beards are setting up a game ranch where “hunters” pay to come kill (basically) tame deer that are fed by humans all year long, and have no fear of them until the hunters shoot them.. They are trapped on the ranch by 8 ft tall deer proof fence. I doubt that I will be able to learn anything additional, but I will try from Dallas area,

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