Horses Grab Headlines in Kansas Financial Dispute

A group of 59 horses became the subject of a Jackson County, Kan., police investigation this week after they were reported stolen, then recovered, and then revealed to be collateral in a financial dispute between a Meriden, Kan., farm owner and the woman who leases his property for horse boarding.

Tammy Blase of Topeka leases Mount Bethel Farm from Scott Becker and his family. According to Jackson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig, Blase reported between 50 and 59 horses stolen from their stalls at Mount Bethel Nov. 4. Blase estimated some of the horses' value at as much as $100,000 each.

The horses were found Wednesday at the former Wheeler dairy farm in Lawrence, Kan., where police spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning recovering 46 of the horses for their owners.

"The owners of those horses found other places to house them," Herrig said. "The remaining horses belong to Becker and Blase and remain at the Lawrence farm."

While searching for the horses, authorities learned the animals were at the center of financial dispute between the Beckers and Blase over her failure to make farm lease payments, and that Becker had hired a recovery company to move the horses to the Lawrence location.

Blase was unavailable for comment.

Becker family attorney Mark Emert, said he filed a petition regarding the late payments in Jackson County District Court Nov. 4. Emert declined to comment further on the case.

But according to court documents, the Beckers seek control over the horses for sale or lease to compensate for rent that the petition claims has been in arrears since 2007. Also on Nov. 4, Jackson County District Court Judge Michael Ireland signed a restraining order prohibiting Blase from removing or selling the horses pending a hearing on the case. No hearing date has been set, Ireland said.

Police involvement ended when the horses were located, although theft charges might be filed because not all the removed horses belonged to Becker and Blase.

"There were eight other owners involved, so we're getting the paperwork together to give to the County Attorney," Herrig said. "We'll see what he wants to do with it."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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