In a story in Sunday’s Chieftain about the confiscation of 63 horses belonging toPenrose resident Penny Gingerich, her place of employment was incorrectly identified. Gingerich works for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ Association Professional Rodeo Communications office, which is in the same building as the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame but a different department. A reporter made the error.
PENROSE — Penny Gingerich, who — along with her husband Manny — has been accused of being cruel and abusive to 63 horses, has come forward to refute the accusations.
The couple, who have lived in the 1000 block of L Street for the past 10 years, had all their personal and business horses seized by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and other authorities Friday morning.
“I am in a state of shock, just beside myself and trying to hold it together,” Penny Gingerich told The Pueblo Chieftain Saturday. “This is just a mind-blowing thing.”
Fremont County Sheriff Detective Sgt. Megan Richards issued a press release late Friday that indicated her office is conducting an animal cruelty investigation that led to the seizure of the 63 horses, but she did not give specific allegations, only indicating that charges are pending.
The sheriff’s office received help from the Colorado Humane Society and the Denver Dumb Friends League in seizing the horses, according to the media release.
Gingerich, who works for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, said it all started last Saturday when a neighbor who lives two blocks away accused her of “not feeding, not watering, starving, abusing and neglecting” the animals.
On Wednesday, Gingerich met with her veterinarian from Four Mile Vet Clinic, Richards and a horse rescue representative.
“The vet said some of the horses need to get their teeth done and be wormed and they will put weight back on. He said there were no grounds to take the horses and that he would do a report and get it to them early next week,” Gingerich said.
Authorities also spoke with feed store representatives, who indicated Gingerich buys hay and grain on a weekly basis, she said.
But early Friday, authorities showed up to confiscate the animals. Gingerich asked her veterinarian to intervene, but he was unable to get a return call from Fremont County Sheriff authorities, said Gingerich.
“The biggest complaint is about the old, skinny horses. There are probably about 10 or so that are old and retired horses who are just living out their days. They are not in pain,” she said.
“One horse who got into locoweed has mental health issues and is kinda skinny, but she is just living a life,” Gingerich said. “Some have cancer.
“The healthier horses I lease to youth camps and outfitters. Most are average, nothing special, but they are easy-going and gentle. Each horse has their own story.”
John Martino of Pueblo is the equine dentist who works on Gingerich’s horses.
“A lot of these horses are ‘rejects’ and I am sure are in much better shape than when Penny purchased them,” Martino told The Chieftain. “She is doing a service for the industry by taking them. The alternative would be a rescue or slaughter.
“Some of the horses had major problems in the mouth, and you are not going to fix it – just make it better. If you change things too fast, it is not a good thing. It has to be done gradually,” Martino explained. “Those with age have missing teeth and have a harder time chewing food. None of them seemed weak or not able to be ridden by young people.
“Penny evaluates each horse and knows how to feed them, has them on a worming schedule and has them on a feeding program. She is very knowledgeable,” Martino said.
A neighbor who lives across the street, Debi Stevens, is a horse owner and dog advocate who runs the inmate dog training program for the Department of Corrections.
“I am the first one who would have called if she had not been taking care of them,” Stevens said. “These horses are just fine – none of them met the body condition standards to be confiscated.
“I have a 26-year-old horse, and I know no matter what you do, sometimes they are going to be a little skinny,” Stevens explained. “I am frightened by this confiscation of her horses – this is a nightmare.”
Although Gingerich has not yet been criminally charged, she has received a notice informing her she has 10 days to come up with $ 22,680 to cover 30 days of care for the horses or she would lose ownership.
“I don’t have $ 23,000 sitting around, and now I don’t have a business,” Gingerich said. “I took out a five-year business loan when I took over the (horse leasing) business three years ago.”
An email to Richards asking for comment was not returned Saturday. A phone call to Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker seeking comment also was not returned Saturday.