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Santa Rosa equestrian denies horse abuse charges

A former Olympic equestrian competitor from Santa Rosa pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court on Thursday to a felony charge of animal cruelty for her alleged treatment of a thoroughbred mare named Valerie.

Gwen Stockebrand, 57, is accused of depriving the horse of care from June 1 to Sept. 8. The complaint filed Dec. 14 says she failed to provide sustenance and drink.

Volunteers nursed the horse back to health after a veterinarian recommended that it be euthanized.

Stockebrand belonged to several U.S. equestrian teams and competed in the Olympics, the World Championships and the Pan American Games.

She declined comment Thursday.

Prosecutors had offered Stockebrand a deal that included her not owning or caring for horses in exchange for her pleading guilty to the charge. But that offer has since expired.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Ken Gnoss denied her attorney's motion to dismiss the case.

Robert Weems of Fairfax said his challenge was made based on the wording of the complaint.

Gnoss set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 9.

Contact Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 and derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com.


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