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Neigh means no at this corral

Illinois woman insists her mare was merely defending herself from equine harassment. But the stallion later died; his owner is suing.

June 24, 2007|Steve Schmadeke | Special to the Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A woman who is being sued after her horse kicked -- and allegedly killed -- a stallion says in court papers that her mare was only defending herself from an unwelcome romantic overture.

An attorney for horse owner Ruth Kay says in papers filed in DuPage County Circuit Court that Kay's mare, Gabby, kicked a stallion named Vinny in the shoulder only after the horse approached Gabby from behind and rested his head on her rump -- a gesture that is sometimes a precursor to mating.

Kay's attorney essentially called Vinny's behavior equine sexual harassment -- an unwanted violation of Gabby's "personal and private space."

But Vinny later died and his owner, Chicago resident Collette Sorensen, sued Kay and Forest Trails, the Bartlett, Ill., stable that boarded both horses before their Jan. 23, 2004, encounter. The lawsuit says that Gabby "kicked, bit and otherwise battered the horse, Vinny," resulting in his death.

Sorensen's lawsuit also alleges that Forest Trails failed to keep Vinny in a private turnout, as instructed, and that Kay, who did not properly rein her horse, led Gabby, "which she knew to be of violent and unmanageable disposition," into that private turnout even though she was aware it was set aside for Vinny.

Both Sorensen and Kay declined to comment.

Rita Hankins, who said she was the owner of Forest Trails, which boards about 36 horses, said Vinny was not put down until long after he was kicked.

Kay's attorney also argues in the suit that Gabby's kick did not lead to Vinny's death, saying the injuries that killed the stallion occurred nearly two weeks later during a ride "in wintry conditions."

He also says that Kay had properly reined her horse.

A judge has ordered Hankins to respond to Sorensen's lawsuit before the case returns to court in July.

The suit, filed late last year, seeks damages of more than $50,000.

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