Horses caretaker speaks out

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

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.

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  • by Whitesboro Neighbor Location: Whitesboro on Sep 24, 2010 at 09:07 AM
    People, People, People! Mr. Sam Houston was HIDING the horses from the creditors on his leased property. He moved the horses there by night. He never had $50,000 and was in U.S. Bankrupcty protection at the time. He never owned one square foot of Houston Ranch. He brought the owner of the property into the LLC for his own purposes, made shady business deals, lost the customer base, which ultimatley forced her to file bankruptcy. She lost the property. Should be forced to change his name and leave the state.
  • by tracy Location: townsville Australia on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:35 PM
    I came across this article accidently but what a great guy. I was wanting to ask someone about how to cope with my new rescue pony who has been on a station ( ranch over there in the U.S. )her whole life, hence she has one gear FLAT-OUT!!! She has a soft mouth & I surely don't want to ruin it but she is a handful to try & keep calm! Any advice would be much appreciated!
  • by Ananyomous Location: Southwest on Apr 29, 2008 at 12:22 PM
    I've had one business dealing (bred my mare to one of the stallions he managed)with Sam Houston and he took advantage of me. Now I still have to resolve registration issues because of this bankruptcy. The horse industry is full of nice people and flakes. There's lots of choices so I suppose that both Sam Houston and Babcock are two to stay away from. By the way, Sam Houston represented himself as the owner of the ranch to me. I'm an experienced breeder so I know his behavior was not typical of the good people out there, but the flakey version.
  • by Faron on Mar 30, 2008 at 11:23 AM
    I personally know the individual that found, moved, and videoed these horses, Sam Houston is not the hero here, he is the culprit, and is solely responsible for the way these horses were treated. There is no excuse for this, hay is cheap, and if in fact Sam did pay $50,000 of his own money to care for the horses, then why did this happen? The horses were removed from properties owned or leased by Mr. Houston. Greg from Oklahoma is correct in his comments about Sam's reputation in the horse industry. What he failed to mention is that Sam is also a disbarred attorney, which should also make you question his credibility and his statements pertaining to this situation. I also know that Jim Babcock and Sam Houston were at one time business partners. The horse industry deserves the whole story, not just one side of it, the fact that Sam Houston lied (a fact that you have been made aware of)about his involvement in the Houston Ranch should be the first red flag.
  • by Greg Location: Oklahoma on Mar 29, 2008 at 04:24 PM
    Sam Houston is not the victim here, the horses that he was supposed to care for are. Mr. Houston has a reputation of poor horse care and questionable ethics in the horse industry. Sam has claimed ownership of the Houston Ranch for several years, there are numerous articles and advertisments to prove it. These horses were removed by Sam to a property that was leased by him yet he chose not to care for them. You owe it to the public to investigate this situation beyond what claims Sam Houston and Jim Babcock make, these men are busimess partners and both stand to lose a lot if Mr. Houston is found negligent. The entire horse industry is in an uproar not only because of this situation, but the way Mr. Houston was portrayed by your newscast as a victim, he is not, what he is is a liar, proven when he claimed he was only an employee and when he stated he wanted what was best for these horses. This is a sad situation that has given the industry as a whole a black eye. Do your job.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2008 at 07:43 AM
    I know you got proof that Sam was claiming ownership of Houston Ranch before this video was posted, because I emailed it to you. PLease dont let this end here lets get some more video of the other 180 horses so we can know who the real victim is.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2008 at 07:39 AM
    Television is a great tool to sway public opinion. You did a great job making sure that at least people that do not know the facts will think Sam is a hero. Here is just one quick example of the lies you reported. Sam WAS claiming to be the owner of Houston Ranch until it no longer suited him. Now if you want to do some real reporting get video,s of the other 180 horses that he claims to have fed, and find out why he is no longer claiming to own Houston Ranch.
  • by Colton Location: whitesboro on Mar 28, 2008 at 09:05 PM
    why would someone take 200 horses from the old houstan ranch when they were perfectly fine where they were? all the horses in the youtube video were skin and bones why were they not treated?, so where are all the others? the horses in the video had the houstan ranch brand and he said they were not his but if they arent his then why would you put $50,000 when your business has gone bankrupt. i beleive there is another side to the story that may come out someday
  • by anonymous on Mar 28, 2008 at 05:11 PM
    Give me a break. Sick or not, these horses were underfed and neglected. Don't believe the bs about coincidental name. His former girlfriend owns the ranch; they split so the business split and that is why he says they were not his. He ran the ranch as his own, just wasn't fortunate enough to have the $ to be the owner.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 28, 2008 at 10:59 AM
    yes 20 horses is ten percent of the horses were sick. THis is not a great amount of animals. Yes it is sad if one horse is sick but the rest of the animals were health and fit so if they were all recieving the same care then he must of done something right
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