June 2014 Issue - page 1

LANC., PA 17604
Vol. 21 No.5
Our 21st Year
June 2014
Ravens Choice ekes out a win in theWillowdale
Steeplechase….pg. 6
Fab Four (of horses) patrol Lancaster City’s
streets … pg. 10
Good news! Pony Club is no longer just for
kids … pg. 30
Energy & speed abound at Radnor Hunt
Races … pg. 32
... and much more!
Pastures & Fencing
feature...pgs. 16-28
by Amy Worden
What started in 2011 as
a “get rich” scheme to take
advantage of a program that
rewards Pennsylvania-bred
Thoroughbreds ended in a Mary-
land courtroom this past March
with the conviction of an Adams
County man on animal cruelty
In the three years in between,
Littlestown, PA contractor James
W. Houseman III left a trail of
heartache and suffering – doz-
ens of starving horses and the
remains of others, possibly as
many as 26, who didn’t make it –
stretched almost 100 miles from
Dauphin County, PA to Frederick
County, MD.
The back-breaking cost
for shelters and volunteers to
rehabilitate and train the survi-
vors totals more than $150,000
to date.
Star Barn Broodmares
The saga of the so-called
Star Barn broodmares started
in 2009 when Dauphin County
businessman Robert Barr and his
partner, Paul Truitt, an ex-veter-
inarian from Tennessee, formed
an agricultural enterprise at the
former Regal Heir Farm near
Penn National Race Course in
Grantville, Lebanon County, PA.
In late 2010, the horse pop-
ulation at the farm jumped from
17 to 120 thoroughbreds, includ-
ing 70 broodmares, 20 foals and
five stallions.
The two trolled for free
broodmares, luring owners by
offering tax write-offs for their
donations to support the nonprof-
it Agrarian Country. Barr planned
an agricultural education and
entertainment center including a
400-seat dinner theater, a 45,000
square foot Heritage Art Center,
a veterinary museum, botani-
cal gardens, a chapel, livestock
ranging from cattle to alpacas
The Star Barn Saga: ‘Get Rich’ Scheme Costs Dozens of Horses’ Lives
to bison, a retirement village, an
equine academy, and a Thor-
oughbred training facility, with
the venerated historic Star Barn
moved to the site as a centerpiece.
However, the business collapsed
in early 2011 and the two men
began unloading the large herd.
News reports at the time said
several tractor trailer loads of
horses went to the New Holland
auction. Three mares, including
New York-bred Light N Easy,
who had a short racing career,
ended up in the kill pen. She and
the others were identified and
Enter James Houseman,
a fencing contractor in Adams
County, who ended up with 70 of
the Star Barn horses.
His plan, as outlined by one
witness in an Adams County
courtroom months later, was to
breed the mares and cash in on
the lucrative Pennsylvania-bred
program that offers significant
bonuses for winners foaled in the
The only problem – some
rescuers said – was that you
couldn’t run a dead horse.
By the fall of 2011, House-
man was playing a cat and mouse
game with authorities in Adams
County, moving his herd, which
included pregnant mares and
weanlings, to different locations
to try to stay ahead of SPCA
They caught up with him in
November 2011, seizing 21 hors-
es from a farm in Littlestown. All
suffered from severe neglect and
starvation; some were so weak
they were barely able to stand.
The body of a dead mare was
found under a pile of hay in a
barn. Four of the weanlings later
died from complications related
to malnutrition.
“I was appalled someone
would do something like that
- starve these animals,” said
Deborah Rogers, a volunteer with
the Adams County SPCA, who
helped nurse the surviving wean-
lings back to health.
About half of the horses had
come from Star Barn. Others had
come from breeders in Kentucky,
Florida and California, officials
During Houseman’s trial in
February 2012, veterinarian Gary
Kabala described the horses he
examined as “lifeless.”
Witnesses said two emaci-
ated young horses were trapped
in a stall with no food or water
and infected mucus pouring from
their nostrils.
"Their heads were down,
they were extremely depressed.
As foals they should have been
vibrant," he told the court. "I was
Many in the courtroom wept
openly as Kabala described how
he and other volunteers carried
one horse off the trailer and had
to prop up another.
An Adams County judge
found Houseman guilty on 14
counts of cruelty and sentenced
him to three and a half years
probation – which included a ban
on horse ownership for that time
– and ordered him to pay $34,000
in restitution to the SPCA.
Houseman appealed the
charges and tried to sue the
(Continued on page 14)
Homebred Wins Radnor Hunt Cup.
All the results, see page 32!
Fritz Boniface gives a hug to Moonsox after they won the $40,000 Radnor Hunt Cup at the
84th Radnor Hunt Races on May 17. Moonsox is a homebred trained by Fritz’s dad Kevin and
owned in part by his sister. See all the results on page 32.
Photo by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
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