After the weekend death of a horse in training with a controversial trainer, the horse people in San Diego are incensed. Many consider his training methods controversial and a form of torture.
Allegedly, trainer Mark Arballo was working with a Gunner horse of superb quality bloodlines, Bella Gonnabe Gifted. Her lessons were taking place at the River Valley Ranch, located near the San Diego/Mexico border.
He started wailing on it, beating on something. He was trying to pull and hit something with a long strap. I saw Bella lying prostrate on the ground, tacked up and bloody faced. Her nose was mutilated and [she was] bleeding out of her nostrils and one ear. She was unable to move – just groaning.
Martha Torkington, owner of Bella and River Valley Ranch, was not there at the time. She knows all about this heavy-handed process called “biting up.”
There are many critics of this practice and some call it outright animal cruelty. Another horse trainer, Christopher Martinez, went so far as to describe this biting up method as brutal. At one time, Martinez worked for Torkington but quit when he watched the abusive behavior that went on at the ranch.
He talks about another horse death just last year under similar circumstances.
Martinez described the “training” this way,
They are so bound that curb strap is puncturing through the horses chin. Every horse has scars from it.
The horse deaths are being investigated by San Diego County Animal Services.
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