RIP Bella Gunnabe Gifted.
SAN DIEGO, CA – San Diego’s horse community is up in arms over the death of a horse in the care of a trainer known for using controversial methods… methods some say is nothing short of torture. In the horse world, training techniques can come down to differences of philosophy; a heavy hand versus a gentler touch. However according to those who discovered the mortally wounded horse, they say it was the trainer’s use of brutal force that killed her.
“They literally try to drive the horse insane,” said horse trainer, Christopher Martinez, “in a case like this it’s almost as if these horses commit suicide. They are given no options.”
Martinez is describing a horse training technique that is so brutal in many cases, he says, the horse ends up dead, “it’s not a training technique it’s a torture type device.”
And that is allegedly what happened this weekend at the river valley ranch near the border. Trainer Mark Arballo was training a Gunner horse, with superb quality bloodlines, called Bella Gonnabe Gifted.
“He started wailing on it, beating on something,” said Bethany Wallace, another trainer at the ranch, “he was trying to pull and hit something with a long strap.”
Wallace is the one who found the mortally wounded horse, still tied up with what’s called a shank bit and it’s neck turned and tied all the way around to the saddle. The horse had apparently panicked and broke the straps.
“I saw Bella lying prostrate on the ground, tacked up and bloody faced,” she said. “Her nose was mutilated and bleeding out of her nostrils and one ear. She was unable to move – just groaning.”
“If they get tripped up they have no way of catching themselves,” said the owner of the ranch, Martha Torkington, adding “because all the balance is in their head they fall over and potentially hit there heads.”
The horse belongs to Torkington who was not at the property when the incident happened, she says the training technique known as “biting up” is common, but she says a trainer should never leave the horse alone during the process, “what happen here was, the absolute rule, you don’t walk away from a horse because too much can happen.”
But others say that is not the case – the practice is just plain animal cruelty, “in these cases they are so bound that curb strap is puncturing through the horses chin,” said Martinez, adding “every horse there ( at River Valley) has scars from it.”
Martinez used to train for Torkington, but he left the ranch after witnessing many what he called a climate of abusive behavior and the death of another horse last year from the same type of circumstances.
“None of us would ever ‘bit up’ a horse in shank bit,” said Martinez, “and both of these animals that died over there were in those type of tack.” Animal control is investigating.
Owner is on TV stations saying she didn't know this was happening, but apparently it is well known that Arballo's assistant Patrice Hohl had killed a horse last year named Shiner by this same method.
Also this horse was beaten by Arballo while she was on ground groaning in pain....
What price a ribbon and trophy...is something we all should be asking ourselves.
More can be found by entering horse's name in search bar...and there is FB page with AC report on Shiner too.
Sad...and heads need to roll!
Horses make me a better person.