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Thousand Oaks Surrenders in Horse War

Times Staff Writer

After waging a two-year legal battle, Thousand Oaks city officials have given up trying to remove Ragtime, a 29-inch miniature horse, from a resident’s home.

“People were beginning to think we were picking on the animal,” said Mayor Lawrence E. Horner after the City Council announced its decision Wednesday night. “The judges involved haven’t been very sympathetic either.”

Patty Fairchild, Ragtime’s owner, still faces a civil suit brought by her homeowner association, whose members live in a tract of 300 houses in the northeast part of Thousand Oaks.

Association members are seeking only to remove the 170-pound animal, not monetary damages, said Chris B. Henrichsen, an attorney for the Oakbrook Village Homeowners Assn. A Ventura Superior Court hearing is set for Feb. 27.

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Fairchild said she is confident that she will win the civil suit and predicted that miniature horses will become “the pets of the future.” She said she has spent about $25,000 to keep Ragtime.

“I didn’t want to lose my pet, even if it means making payments for the rest of my life,” said Fairchild, who said she rents the three-bedroom house where she lives with Ragtime and her family.

Horner said the city has not calculated the cost of prosecuting Fairchild.

Thousand Oaks officials began the fight to remove the gray-and-white horse in December, 1986, after neighbors complained that it created a stench. Since then, attorneys for the city have lost three court cases against Fairchild.

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In the latest court battle, a Ventura Municipal Court judge earlier this month found Fairchild innocent of charges that she violated a city zoning law prohibiting horses and other livestock.


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