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Cruelty charge against ex-Santa Rosa Olympic equestrienne dropped

Prosecutors have dropped their charge against a former Santa Rosa Olympic equestrienne accused of starving a thoroughbred horse nearly to death.

This week's trial of Gwen Stockebrand, 58, was canceled after prosecutors agreed to drop the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge on condition she breaks no laws over the next year and volunteers for 80 hours at a horse facility.

Stockebrand, who initially was charged with felony animal abuse of a 30-year-old mare named Valerie, reached the agreement Nov. 30 with the District Attorney's Office as both sides prepared for a trial.

Under the deal, Stockebrand also is not to seek a return of the horse and may not deny inspections by animal control officers.

"The dismissal is a relief," her lawyer, Margaret Weems, said Monday. "It gives Gwen a chance to put it behind her."

Stockebrand was accused last December of failing to provide sustenance and drink to the horse at her Santa Rosa ranch.

The felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor after a preliminary hearing during which a judge questioned the strength of the evidence.


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