Refuge Services therapy horses cannot serve after horse theft - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Refuge Services therapy horses cannot serve after horse theft

Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Cracked hoof (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Cracked hoof (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Sore on side (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Sore on side (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Thieves (Source: Facebook) Thieves (Source: Facebook)

Two therapy horses are out of service at Refuge Services after a crime that has left them sore and injured.

Five men entered the property near Martin Luther King Boulevard and 84th Street around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night and took five horses for a ride into the city.

Two of the suspects are minors, and they all will likely face theft charges for stealing these animals that help change lives.

"These horses are very tolerant of screaming and all kinds of movements and different things that aren't typical of riding," said director Patti Mandrell, "but most importantly, they're the key to this work."

Three of the horses belonged to a boarder at the facility, and the other two were therapy horses that help aid children with disabilities and veterans with PTSD.

"We got a phone call from one of our boarders," Mandrell said. "She called to let us know that some horses were missing."

They counted the five horses gone, along with riding equipment.

"Like, somebody came and got them," Mandrell said. "We have 40 acres here, and so they really spent some time selecting who they were going to pick."

The Lubbock County Sheriff's Department responded to their call for help.

"Really at that point, all we could do was wait and pray," Mandrell said. "They are our family. They're like our kids."

A cell phone video taken by one of the riders was posted to Facebook as they traveled on the access road of Highway 84 and I-27.

They rode across asphalt at least eight miles from Refuge Services, and even past the Whataburger at 50th Street and Utica Avenue hours later. That picture was posted to Facebook by an onlooker, and helped the horses and thieves be tracked down near that area.

"We were able to locate them and get a trailer over there, and get the horses, and pick them up and haul them back," Mandrell said, "and have them home safety."

The Sheriff's Department continues to investigate all five suspects, who will likely face theft charges.

"It was just a bad idea all around," she said, "and a very costly choice for us, as well."

That lengthy ride caused cracked hooves, back bumps, and sores on the therapy horses that Mandrell said will scar.

"They're very sore today," Mandrell said. "Bruised and limping around a bit, which has kept them out of therapy."

Mandrell does not know when the horses will be able to help again.

"I really don't think the boys had any idea of the impact this would have for us, and for these horses," she said, "and how many different lives they're negatively impacting by the choices they made just to have a joyride, as they would say."

Refuge Services has lost some of their monthly income, since they are down two therapy horses and without some boarders.

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