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MOORPARK : College District Sells 21 Horses at Auction

Twenty-one horses from the now defunct Moorpark College Equestrian Program have been sold to 10 Ventura County buyers, who purchased the animals in a public sale this week.

Two other horses that received no bids during an auction Wednesday night will be sold privately, officials said.

On average, the auctioned horses sold for $485, with the highest bid claiming an 18-year-old gelding for $1,500 and the lowest buying a 2-year-old gelding for $50, Community College District comptroller Sue Johnson said.

The district is requiring that buyers sign a pre-possession agreement stating that they will not sell the horses to anyone for use as food products. The agreement also states that owners must have adequate facilities to keep the animals.

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But Johnson acknowledged that the district does not intend to inspect those facilities before turning the horses over to the new owners, and does not have any safeguards planned to assure that the animals are not sold for slaughter.

“We’ve asked them not to do that,” she said.

While most of the horses were purchased by local citizens, the Foxfield Riding School in Westlake bought eight of them, including a 20-year-old gelding with chronic back problems.

“We just wanted to give them good homes,” said Olga Ascione, the stable manager at Foxfield. “If they can’t do that much, they will just live happy in pasture.”

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The new owners have until Aug. 19 to pick up the horses, which have been staying at an Ojai ranch since the equestrian program closed amid turmoil in June.

The Community College District ordered an appraisal and public sale of the animals after learning that the program’s former instructor had sold several horses privately and for low prices.

This week, the Ventura County district attorney’s office and the college district launched investigations into the disappearance of more than 20 horses that were used in the program.


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