Horse Owner Accused Of Abuse Defends Herself

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MIFFLIN TOWNSHIP -- In Columbia County, the owner of a horse stable was charged with animal cruelty on Wednesday. She is now speaking out to Newswatch 16 against the charges.

Some of the horses still on Maria Hayes' Frosty Oaks Stables near Nescopeck are among the four she's charged with neglecting back in the winter. She says they're fine now.

But a fifth horse from the place had to be put down in February and police say that's because it was emaciated.

State troopers charge Hayes with animal cruelty.

"More than anything, I'm hurt.  I'm hurt," said Hayes when asked about the accusations.

Hayes spoke with us, defending herself, saying she's going to fight the charges.

"I rescued over 50 horses in my lifetime and I take pride in taking care of them and trying the best and doing what I can for the ones I rescue," she said.

She says she was caring for all the horses at her stables, but she says the one that was put down was old and wearing a coat in February. She says didn't notice its weight loss.

"I wasn't overwhelmed. The animals got fed.  We got a horse from auction. Obviously something was wrong and we weren't able to help her in time."

She showed us paperwork from a new vet recommending different care to make sure this didn't happen again.  She says she's followed those recommendations.

"You know, it was a hard winter. They weren't emaciated by the scores, they were just a little thinner than they should have been and I took the recommendation of the new vet," Hayes said. "We had them all on track where they should be."

Hayes says besides the horse that died, none of the other horses were taken from her.

She plans to fight the animal cruelty charges in court.