On October 2, reining horse trainer Mark Arballo pled not guilty to the felony charge of animal cruelty according to a spokesperson from the San Diego County District Attorney’s office in California.
Arballo is facing charges from the death of Bella Gunnabe Gifted (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Bay Brim Hat x Hollywood Return) on September 21, 2013. The 5-year-old mare was in reining training with Arballo at the time of her death.
A readiness conference is set for November 12, at 8:30 a.m. in San Diego, and a preliminary examination is set for December 2, at 8:30 a.m. Arballo is being allowed to stay out of custody on his own recognizance. He does not have to be in court for the upcoming readiness conference and can be represented by his attorney.
According to Ward Stutz, AQHA’s Senior Director of Breed Integrity, AQHA rules provides that no person shall treat any horse in a cruel or inhumane manner. For violation of such rules, an AQHA member may be disciplined, suspended, fined and/or expelled from AQHA, and a non‑member may be denied AQHA privileges.
Arballo is not an AQHA member, but AQHA has notified Arballo that the association has imposed restrictions on him including the denial of privileges associated with conducting registration related transactions with AQHA and participation in any AQHA events.
Stutz said AQHA will continue to monitor the criminal case involving Arballo.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office filed a felony animal cruelty charge against Arballo relating to the death of Bella Gunnabe Gifted after the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services turned over findings from a necropsy on the mare.
Bella Gunnabe Gifted had lifetime earnings of more than $8,185, according to Equi-Stat records.
Read the earlier stories on this case: