CBS 58 Investigates: Horse boarding facility shut down in Racine County
RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Honey Creek Stables in Racine County operated for less than a year.
At its peak it had close to 50 horses. Things went downhill when boarders learned the operator of the facility never got a permit, and they say horses were not being cared for.
It's been a tough go for 12-year-old Raffles. He came from a kill pen and was saved from slaughter in 2015 by Pony Tales Refuge and Rehab, a nonprofit horse rescue.
"He needed some weight, he was terrified," said Cindy Prince, executive director of Pony Tales Refuge. "He needed a good grooming, food an just to relax."
Raffles' condition improved, and in March he became part of Pony Tales' trainer challenge, where a qualified trainer takes the rescue horses, works with them and gets them ready to find a forever home.
Raffles and another horse, Lakota, went to Jennifer Wallace, who ran Honey Creek Stables in Racine County.
"She swore up and down she was going to do a wonderful job with him," Prince said.
But at the beginning of June, Prince says she learned Raffles was not getting the care he needed, and had him and Lakota brought back to Pony Tales.
She says Lakota needed some grooming, but was in okay shape. Raffles was another story.
"You could see his ribs, you could see his whole top line. The pelvic bone," Prince said.
Prince also showed CBS 58 investigates bite marks on Raffles' neck and sides. "I cried," she said. "You know, he looked almost worse than when we first got him."
Boarders tell us there were other problems at the stable, saying Wallace owes people money and was not giving horses enough to eat.
"The quality of the hay was really poor," Jessica Recknagel, a boarder at Honey Creek Stables said. "We immediately had horses that were coughing afterwards, and then we still had problems having regular hay delivered on time. Their rations were being cut down."
"I pay to be here," boarder Yvonne Chentnik said. "Part of that board came with services, which was the hay and the grain and the taking care of the horses, and that wasn't being done."
The facility was also operating without the proper permit. County records show Wallace, who was leasing the property from a woman named Kim, applied for a permit but did not show up to an April 15 meeting to get it approved.
CBS 58 Investigates obtained audio from that meeting -- an official with the Racine County Economic Development and Land Use Planning Committee asks twice if the applicant is present, and then asks if anyone is present to represent the applicant. No one speaks up.
The board also noted it received a complaint that the boarding operation already started.
CBS 58 asked Wallace about these allegations, and she claims she was at the meeting.
"They called Kim, they never said my name," Wallace said. "I heard the whole thing -- they did not give me a chance to talk."
A county official tells CBS 58 Investigates a conditional use permit is required for horse boarding operations. Honey Creek Stables was told to discontinue activity or get a permit.
We also asked Wallace if Raffles was properly cared for.
"He was, along with Lakota," Wallace said. "I have pictures of before and after."
She sent us a couple pictures she says were taken days before Raffles left.
"You can get those from anywhere, you can get a bite mark from a bee," Wallace said, when asked about marks on Raffles.
When asked if she felt like she did anything wrong in the situation with regard to boarders at Honey Creek Stables and the rescues, Wallace said, "I do not."
Honey Creek Stables is now shut down. Boarders say Wallace did not pay the landowner rent.
After we talked to Wallace, she asked us to talk to two boarders she said were happy. One woman said that while she didn't blame Wallace, her horse lost weight and there was not enough hay. The other woman who said she was a friend of Wallace's and got a discounted board rate said she was happy with her horses' care.