Manatee county horse crimes have owners on edge

A stable hand was attacked while watching over horses overnight

Palmetto Horse Stable

PALMETTO, FL (WFLA) – A horse stable employee was attacked in Manatee County. It’s the latest in a series of horse related crimes in the area and it has horse owners on edge.

Davis Stable in Palmetto is only a few miles away from the spot where a horse was recently lured away and slaughtered. So out of caution, owner Rick Davis had a stable hand spend nights at the barn and one night last week, the employee realized someone was inside.

Davis said, “The stable hand said he was woken up by the horses making some kind of noises or something.”horse3

Davis said the stable hand walked up and down the aisle, looking out for any intruders. And then as he emerged to leave the barn he was smacked in the head, and woke up in a pool of his own blood. He later called 911 and needed 13 stitches on his forehead. The would-be criminal vanished without a trace.

Davis said, “We don’t know for sure if this was related to the same people that butchered the horse or if this was somebody coming in maybe to steal saddles, we have no idea.”

Nationwide, horses are stolen to be slaughtered or smuggled overseas. Horse thefts are extremely rare in the Tampa Bay area, but recent horse related crimes have local owners concerned. Davis said, “The horse community is very nervous, all my friends are nervous so we’re all being extra cautious, extra careful to keep an eye on our horses.”

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has been actively following all horse related calls. Officials don’t know if the recent local horse-related crimes are connected, but they’re willing to help scared horse owners.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said, “You can always call our crime prevention office and we’ll actually come out and give you tips on how to better secure your area.”

Bristow added that horse owners need to take their own precautions and be vigilant. He said, “I think people just need to be aware of their surroundings.”

Davis is not taking chances. He will soon install an advanced camera system to keep criminals out. “Things are going on out there I don’t think they’re done with us yet,” said Davis.

Manatee county officials say there have been fewer leads to work with lately in the recent horse slaughter case. So they need all the help they can get. If you have any information on that or any of the other horse related crimes, call the authorities. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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