WHITESBORO, TX -- The caretaker of hundreds of horses speaks out. He says a You Tube video showing skinny horses does not tell the whole story. More than 200 horses were removed from the property recently because of bank repossession. But the man taking care of the horses say they weren't his.
"There was never a time these horses didn't have hay in front of them,” says Sam Houston, a Whitesboro rancher.
He is referring to hundreds of horses, left abandoned on his property last fall. Since then he has spent about $50,000 on hay and other feed.
"I care about animals,” he says. “I've always cared about animals and certainly have put my money where my mouth is and have spent a great deal of time and money trying to take care of these animals so to be vilified is pretty tough to take."
A video recently posted on the website You Tube shows about twenty of the horses with visible hips and bones. He says the animals were in poor condition but it was because of illness, not neglect.
While he did care for the horses, they never belonged to him. They were the property of Houston Ranch, but have since been repossessed by an area bank. Sam is a former employee, but no longer has any affiliation with Houston Ranch. He has never had any ownership with the ranch. The “Houston” last name is a coincidence.
He says he separated the sickly horses from the rest of the healthy ones, making sure they had adequate food.
"This is just something that happens if you have a large herd of horses,” says Jim Babcock, a Whitesboro rancher, well-respected in the quarter-horse community. “You're going to have some sick ones but these are not Sam's horses."
Since the You Tube video circulated online, Sam says he has received several e-mails accusing him of abuse and neglect. The SPCA and Grayson County Sheriff's Office both determined the horses were not mistreated.
"As long as the animals have food and water, basically that's all the state requires," says Lt. Linda Draper with the Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Draper also owns several horses and is familiar with proper care.
“Not many people are going to take on 200 animals especially horses to feed them out of his own pocket. That doesn't happen today," Babcock says.
The horses have been removed to a private ranch somewhere in the Tioga area where are receiving care.