Former Olympian Facing Animal Cruelty Charges

Former U.S. Olympic equestrian team member Gwen Stockebrand has been charged with felony animal cruelty in connection with the alleged maltreatment of a 28-year-old Thoroughbred mare. Stockebrand competed in dressage at the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. In 2010 she was named to the Sonoma County, Calif., Horse Council's Equus Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to the advancement of the dressage discipline.

Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said that earlier this month Stockebrand was charged with one count of felony animal cruelty for allegedly failing to provide appropriate care for the mare. The horse is currently under care at the Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue in Santa Rosa, Calif. Rescue operator Betsy Bueno said the mare is responding well to rehabilitative care.

On Dec. 28 Stockebrand appeared in Sonoma Superior court for arraignment, Cook said. Stockebrand did not enter a plea, but her attorney Robert Weems entered a demurrer in the case, Cook said. A demurrer is a written response to a complaint which in effect pleads for dismissal on grounds that even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, there is no legal basis for the lawsuit.

Weems was unavailable for comment.

The case has been continued to Jan. 5, Cook said.

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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