THOUSAND OAKS : Owner Vows to Keep Miniature Horses

The owner of two miniature horses said Wednesday that he has changed his mind and will fight to keep the 33-inch-tall geldings in his back yard after all.

Greg Bowlay-Williams of Thousand Oaks had agreed Tuesday to remove the miniature horses, Chips and Apache, from his home. Ventura Municipal Judge Barry B. Klopfer on Tuesday continued Bowlay-Williams’ zoning violation trial until June 19 to give him time to move the unusual pets.

However, Bowlay-Williams, a state Corrections Department officer, said he plans to hire a new attorney and defend himself. “I’m going to fight this thing to the finish,” he said.

He added that he hasn’t had the heart to tell his daughter, Rachelle, 6, that she may be separated from her pet, Chips. Apache is Bowlay-Williams’ pet, he said.


Bowlay-Williams said he is especially determined to retain the horses despite a city ordinance against keeping livestock on a lot smaller than 20,000 square feet. His property totals about 13,000 square feet.

Bowlay-Williams said he agreed Tuesday to remove the horses from his home because his attorney, Philip R. Dunn, told him that there was no chance of successfully defending himself against the charges.

Bowlay-Williams said Wednesday: “I’ll get a new attorney. I may even sue the city.

“They’re like members of the family,” he said, referring to the horses.

Nancy Schreiner, a Thousand Oaks deputy city attorney who was to prosecute the case, said a number of neighbors have complained about Chips and Apache since Bowlay-Williams acquired them last year. “It isn’t just the smell,” Schreiner said. “One woman is allergic to horses.”

In a similar Thousand Oaks case that attracted wide attention, charges against Patty and Richard Fairchild were dismissed in 1987, allowing the Fairchilds to keep their miniature horse, Ragtime, at their home on Shady Brook Drive. In that case, the judge found that the zoning code dealing with horses was poorly worded.

Since then, Schreiner said, the code has been tightened, and even tiny horses are classified as livestock.