Special Report: Concerns raised about care of horse

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This is a story about a woman who finds a horse she thinks is malnourished.

She offers to buy the horse from the owner, to give the horse what she thinks is a better living, a greener pasture, so to speak.

On Wednesday, May 30, 10 On Your Side met Jackie Dunbar on West Neck Road near Pungo in Virginia Beach to look for that horse she thinks is malnourished.

“Here’s what would be best, for you to convince him to sell me the horse.  If you could do that, that would be a miracle and then we can get him back to health,” Dunbar said while walking through a wheat field to find the horse.

Jackie’s talking about the health of Rowdy, a 25-year-old American Quarter Horse she found on March 29.

A photo of Rowdy on March 29, 2018. 

The pictures show 11 ribs deeply outlined down the middle of his body.  “I was devastated. I was wondering does he belong to anybody, or is he just a wild horse walking around?”

Dunbar would eventually talk with Rowdy’s owner, who orders her off the property.

So to see how Rowdy looks today required a walk down a neighbor’s property to get parallel with Rowdy, who we found through a wired fence eating on the next property.

10 On Your Side asked Dunbar how Rowdy looks now, comparing him to the pictures from March 29. 

“He looks better than he did, but he’s still not not healthy.” “By the ribs you can still see. By his withers being so thin and narrow, by his hips sticking out so far,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar called Virginia Beach Animal Control, which sent 10 On Your Side a statement.

They claim there were three complaints, but they didn’t know if they all came from Dunbar.  Animal Control ordered a licensed veterinarian to evaluate Rowdy, and the statement in part reads “and the owner followed the recommendation to change the horse to a senior food diet … no criminal violations were found.”

“Rowdy, Rowdy, Rowdy,” Dunbar yells. 

She’s kind of like a horse whisper, and you get the feeling she knows how to talk to horses. Dunbar owns two horses herself, has worked with horses for 13 years, and shows for comparison pictures of what well-fed wild horses look like from Corolla, which really look plump. 

After the yells for Rowdy, he quickly comes running, “He actually had some pep in his step because he hasn’t had that in a while,” Dunbar said.

She also noticed what appears to be stagnant dirty water in Rowdy’s water trough. 

10 On Your Side then called Rowdy’s owner, Cecil Boggs, who leases the land for Rowdy.

After mentioning Dunbar’s concerns, including the water, 10 On Your Side found Boggs cleaning the water later in the day. 

A photo of Rowdy on March 29, 2018. 

“I come every three days to make sure it is cleaned out,’ he said.

10 On Your Side asked Boggs to show us Rowdy, and on the way it was clear he doesn’t care much for Jackie Dunbar, “She can take care of her horse, and I will take care of mine … she said the horse looks bad, and I said that is an ugly statement.” 

Boggs walked us back to Rowdy’s single stall, and it should be noted that Rowdy is the only horse on the property which Dunbar has a problem with, “Horses should be in groups, that’s the way they thrive.”

Rowdy was in a cleaned out stall, but his ribs were still visible. 

How did the ribs get to look like that?

He answered, “The last part of the winter it was cold, real cold.” “I fed him, but I don’t feed him as much as he needed at the time.” 

10 On Your Side responded, “you are going to do this?”  Boggs shot back, “I am doing that now.”

Boggs also handed over a copy of the veterinary services contract that followed the Animal Control investigation.

It instructs Boggs to, among other items, give Rowdy:

  • Access to hay all the time
  • A clean water bucket
  • Increased feed
  • Fixed teeth for more efficient eating

10 On Your Side asked Boggs, “you acknowledge during the winter you probably should have been feeding him more?”

Boggs responded, ” I should have been feeding him more, but he eats as much as he likes, and then he goes and grazes in the grass.”

10 On Your Side found that Rowdy will eat whatever you give him, but you have to give it to him. 

Rowdy seems to want friends and will let a stranger lead him, even to water to drink. 

All of this brings us back to Dunbar wanting to buy Rowdy to take him to a better home, to greener pastures, where Rowdy is not alone.

She’s even set up a GoFundMe page to get some help.

“She is kind of a thorn to me,” Boggs laughs. He continues, “but I made the decision to sell that horse to her.”

The problem is Dunbar and Boggs were back and forth on price. These were two separate conversations we had with Dunbar and Boggs at different places.

DUNBAR: “I offered him $500 for Rowdy,”
BOGGS: “It’s not what she offers, it is what I say is my price.”
DUNBAR: “He said, it was his horse, and he would have to get $2,000.”
WAVY TO BOGGS:  “She said OK, $2,000, then you said no.”
BOGGS: “Because it is spur of the moment. It’s like someone comes in and says the house is on fire,” Boggs laughs.

Boggs would then hike the price to $2,500 when 10 On Your Side got the two hooked up on the phone.

Boggs says, “You are still concerned about my horse, so I’m going to let you have the horse for $2,500 in cash.”

Dunbar responds, “we will figure out a time we can meet.”

WAVY then asks both, “is this fair?” Dunbar says “yes” and Boggs responds, “That is fair. That’s the end of that, 10 on Your Side.”

Boggs would later change his mind, but we reminded Boggs what he said on camera, what he promised, at which point Boggs agreed to keep the $2,500 deal on the table.

Then on June 2, it was moving day for Rowdy. Jackie had a previously planned trip, so she sent her daughter Jillian Ellis, to pick up Rowdy, and she had the $2,500 in cash. 

Boggs signs over the horse, and it’s done. Boggs helps load Rowdy into Jillian’s trailer, and the two shake hands. 

Jillian then gently says, “Thank you Cecil.  We will take good care of him for you.” Cecil responds, “Thanks. Thank you.”

Rowdy is taken down the road to the East Coast Equestrian Training Center, a sprawling 100 acres of magnificent greener pastures for Rowdy, who joins about 54 other horses.

There are big barns, and big stalls.

The center’s owner, Sharon Golesh, who accompanied Jillian to pick up Rowdy, estimates Rowdy is 300 pounds underweight. 

Golesh will be the one who nurses Rowdy back to full health.  She is keeping him out of the sun, giving him more food, and lots more water.  In the next three days Rowdy will begin a gentle de-worming  process over a few days. 

His teeth will be fixed to make chewing more efficient.  It is clear Rowdy will get tender loving care in these greener pastures.

Jillian credits 10 On Your Side for bringing the two sides together to work through the differences,  making Rowdy’s greener pasture a reality.

“You all called Mr. Boggs, and you (reminded him ) he was going to sell him (to us.) Without you, I don’t think that we would have brought Rowdy here.  We are going to get this horse back to health and save him,” Jillian added.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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