Trial Date Set in Pack Horse Cruelty Case

Two men each charged with four counts of animal cruelty will begin their trial on Jan. 27 in Hamilton, Mont.

Craig Heydon, 71, and his son Curtis Heydon, 37, both from the Atlanta, Ga., area, were not present at their pretrial hearing on Oct. 9. They requested a jury trial, which was granted.

The Heydons' animal cruelty charges stem from an incident this summer, in which a horse was found collapsed alongside a trail with open sores and in an emaciated condition. The Heydons had been using the horse as a pack animal during a two month ride through the mountains. Three more horses in poor condition and belonging to the Heydons were later found in Stevensville, Mont. (Read more.)

The equines are presently in the care of the Bitter Root Humane Association in Hamilton. The two horses found in the most serious condition, Able and Diamond, have responded well to a treatment by an equine ophthalmologist to heal corneal ulcers caused by exposure to flies while out on the trail. "It has cost thousands to help these horses," said Bitter Root operations manager Vicki Dawson.

The Heydons' lawyer, Matthew Stevenson, said that the defendants are seeking acquittal in this case and that the men would likely seek to retain ownership of the horses. "It's still to be determined," he said. "It depends on how the trial turns out."

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Liz Brown

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