A Sonoma County judge ruled this week that there is enough evidence to head to trial on felony animal cruelty charges against a Santa Rosa man accusing of abusing horses.

Jose Valencia Galvez, 51, faces two felony counts of cruelty to horses and one felony count of gun possession.

Galvez was arrested Jan. 1, 2008, with Monico Monarrez Mijarez, 41, five months after the owner of a Sebastopol equestrian shop spotted an apparently abandoned black gelding along Todd Road tied to a barbed-wire fence without food or water in near 100-degree heat.

Mijarez pleaded guilty a year ago to one felony cruelty charge and a charge of abandoning an animal was dismissed. He was sentenced to three years? probation and ordered to pay the District Attorney?s Office $2,500 and donate $500 to a local horse-rescue group called Coins to Help Abandoned or Neglected Equines, or CHANGE.

He also was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and was prohibited from owning horses.

According to court records, Galvez has been offered a similar plea deal with the prosecutors? recommendation of probation. He initially entered a guilty plea, but has since withdrawn it and is fighting the charges.

After a preliminary hearing this week, Judge Lawrence Antolini ruled there is enough evidence to head to trial.

The gelding found alongside the road was in such poor condition it was killed. Tips to law enforcement agencies after that horse?s discovery led to the arrests of Mijarez and Galvez.

At least two other horses were seized from a Stony Point residence investigators connected to Mijarez and Galvez.

Galvez could face several years in prison if convicted of the charges. He is free on $20,000 bail.

Further court dates will be set at an April 13 hearing.