Report: Animal Neglect Investigated on Farm Leased to Murty Brothers

by | 07.02.2013 | 2:31pm

Woodford County Animal Officers and state officials are investigating alleged animal neglect and malnourishment in 24 horses on a leased portion of Hopewell Farm near Versailles, Ky., according to a Lexington television station.  Two of the horses reportedly had to be euthanized because they were in such bad condition. The horses were, according to WLEX-TV reporter Leigh Searcy who reported from the farm, “shut in stalls filled with feces” and in “deplorable condition.”

The 43-acre tract and 24-horse barn – property formerly known as Faywood Farm – was leased by Hopewell Farm and PNC Bank to veteran horsemen Wayne and Duane Murty, according to Rick Trontz, who formerly owned Hopewell Farm until it went into receivership. Trontz said he executed a deal to lease the property to the Murty brothers “sometime in April or May” and that the bank took control of the entire Hopewell Farm operation a short time later.

Hopewell, which formerly was home to 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away, has been listed for sale with Justice Real Estate for $14,675,000 for its entire 584 acres.  However, an absolute auction being handled by Swinebroad-Denton has been scheduled on July 16 at 10:30 a.m.

The portion of the farm on which the Murty horses were found is being sold as one of three separate tracts.

“I don't have anything to do with the grounds right now,” said Trontz. “I've only been on the property to pack up the office. This is not something that would happen under our watch.”

WLEX-TV's Searcy attempted to speak with one of the Murty brothers, who arrived to move horses out of the barn to another location, but was told to “get off the property.”

Attorney Tim Cone, who is acting as a receiver on behalf of PNC Bank, could not be reached for comment.

  • Old Timer

    What the hell is wrong with people? All the issues we face as an industry and this one just keeps happening. It’s truly amazing to me.

    Worst part of this story is that the horses are being moved to god knows where and under what circumstances.

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Hopefully, authorities followed the van to see where it went.

      • notyourdaughter

        I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Karyn Chapman

      Lets hope it’s not to a kill buyer who sends them to slaughter in Mexico or Canada where they have a horrid death!!!

  • slvrblltday

    If they’re being neglected then why aren’t they being seized? Or at least prevented from being moved until seizure can be executed?

    • Steph


    • Stanley inman

      Take a deep breath
      And think about the source of story
      Before you build your bonfire
      They said the horses were standing in
      (Local news is for retarded folks)

      • Hossler

        Really? You are going to dismiss the story because you don’t like the reporter’s use of the word feces?? I would think that anyone with a brain could look at the video and see how underweight and neglected those horses are, especially for this time of year. I would hate to see what their feet look like, no farrier in KY will do any work for them because they won’t pay. The brothers are too old to take care of those horses, too broke to hire anyone else to take care of them(what happened to the million dollars they got for being kicked off the land by the airport?), yet they keep on breeding their bad mares to their own worthless stallion every year and creating more foals that they neglect. I guess you don’t want to offend the Murty brothers by calling it what it is: ABUSE.

        • Stanley inman

          You did Misspell your penname, right?
          (acaretaker of horses and mules)
          Maybe a small irrelevant point (feces?)
          But suggests it’s author (not you my friend/come here
          let me give you a hug)
          Could be clueless/ about particulars of story
          I saw the pictures/ they confirm my suspicions
          Here’s some matches…
          “our father who arnt in heaven
          Hallowed be her name…

          • Hossler

            No, I did not misspell my last name. Lol, sometimes your bizarre style is actually humorous. Didn’t mean to sound so angry in that earlier post, please don’t hug me….

          • reality check

            While you may take issue with the use of the word, “feces,” it is a correct term. Leigh Ann showed horses for a while growing up. I’m sure she’d rather call it by a name you or I would use. However, we don’t exactly live in a rural world.

            This is a very legimate case. Good grief, as long as you’ve been around, you should know the Murtys are notorious for this. I assure you Woodford Animal Control is on top of their game and if they are bringing in the state vet, they aren’t playing. Horses that been on that property do not get in that condition in two months of lush grass. Their new story blames it on a toxic weed – those little yellow flowered weeds. And that’s why the horses inside the barn died – their vet told them they couldn’t go out because of the weeds. Ever hear of hay? Horses only eat that weed if there is nothing else to eat. Really, Stan, do you really buy this load of hogwash the Murtys are selling again?

          • Stanley inman

            You are mistaken if
            you interpreted my comments
            As defending the murty brothers.
            It was a stupid effort on my part to
            Show how those who care about animal
            Welfare harm their efforts (which I support)
            To end animal abuse,
            These above comments confirm
            their wrong-headed
            I’ll leave you and the rest with

      • Roisin

        With all due respect did you see the pictures of the horses ? They looked good , right !! Would you find the story more credible if the horses were standing in horse manure/dung or did I get it wrong too. And if that is one of the Murty brothers walking to his truck I sincerely think he needs to retire because he is physically incapable of doing the work necessary to take proper care of horses.

        • Stanley inman

          Why not trust
          State vet bob stout’s
          Judgement here?

          • Roisin

            I have been around vets a long time ! Some are great, some are good and some not so good. And then, well, maybe it depends on who they work for. Just a thought.

          • reality check

            The State Vet was there. They euthanized horses. What does that tell you? That this was all just a misunderstanding?

  • Jay

    Good advertising for Dromoland Farm??

    • Mj

      What does Dromoland have to do with it?

      • Tony

        Watch the video !

      • WT

        Dromoland is on the side of the pickup. Bad press for them.

  • junoblack

    Please, please don’t turn The Paulick Report into the Huffington Post, where every link you click ends up auto-starting a video. And you can’t even pause or mute this one til the ad is over!

  • Paula Barbaro

    Why were they even aloud to move them horses ? you can see what kind of shape their in . Let alone 2 had to be put down . WTH ????

  • ziggypop

    WTF!!! And when will these abusers be charged?

    • notyourdaughter

      Yeah, I don’t understand that. So they can neglect them at the new, undisclosed location? More information, please.

  • Ann M. Adam

    I do hope someone took licence plate numbers so there can be follow up onthe condition of the vanned horses.

    From what I read it is possible that the horse owners thought feeding and care was included in the contract that they made with Trontz? This is based on his own statement of the agreed lease deal. My added questions are:

    1.) How could Trontz make a lease deal knowing the bankl would take control?

    2.) What exactly WAS that lease agreement?

    3.) The appearance of the one Murty brother in the video make it appear he is elderly and could be infirmed. Were they scammed?

    4.) Since the bank took control “shortly after” the agreed lease done “sometime in in April or May”, wouldn’t the bank then also be responsible for the care of these horses?

    It would seem to me that there should be a huge collection of fines to pay for the care of these poor creatures!

    • Jenny

      From what I know of the situation, Mr. Trontz did not know that the bank would take over when he signed the month-to-month, short-term lease with the Murtys. They simply leased the land and barn and were fully responsible for all care, as is common in these arrangements. This was not a boarding contract in which Hopewell farm was in any way responsible for the care and well-being of the horses. The 43 acre portion of the farm they rented was too small for the number of horses they kept there, leaving virtually no grass in the fields.

      That part of the property has a separate entrance and is surrounded by hedges, and the condition of the horses could not be seen from the road, or any other parts of the farm which is divided by a creek. Other parts of the farm were leased by other parties, all of which were given ample notice by the bank to vacate the premises and move their operations. The bank has no responsibility for the horses that are not owned by Hopewell, but by the individual tenants and their clients.

      I am glad someone was able to notice what was happening and notified the authorities, who know exactly where the horses are being moved to, that information is just not being made public at this time.

      • Ann M. Adam

        Thank you so much for the information. It does explain circumstances but of course does not make the problem better for the horses. The behavior of the man removing the horses is indicative of his attitude and creates concern about his possible solutions to the fate of these horses.. He did not have the authority to demand that those trying to question him, leave the property.

        I hope there will be follow-up on this story.

        • Loves#1Ruffian

          Neglect? Let’s call it what it is, Feloney Cruelty and possibly abandonment as well. They should have been seized immediately for their protection.

        • LongTimeEconomist

          Despite the inexcusable treatment of the horses, the lessee of the property has every legal right to tell private individuals to get off the property.

    • A MCIVOR

      In answer to your question ,they are both elderly, infirm and insane , nonetheless, they are ruthless.

  • Richard C

    This is pure sleaze — and it always seems to have heavy doses of “shock” and “dismay” by those on these alleged farms that there was any abuse going on.


    Do they not rotate pastures or have enough pasture land? With all the rain in central Kentucky this year, there is plenty of lush green grass to be had. Absolutely despicable to allow these horses to be starving where there is plenty to eat on the other side of the fence.

    • griffox

      right. I don’t understand how horses can be malnourished in the summer. I see where people get into trouble in the winter if they don’t have enough hay, but both of my horses are on restricted access right now because the grass is so rich.

  • betterthannothing

    Thank you to whomever finally reported the abuse to the authorities.

    Why are those two still allowed to own horses?

    Who ordered the two euthanasias? If it was the authorities, why didn’t they seize the survivors? Who euthanized them?

  • Francis Bush

    This appears disgraceful. If the owners are too poor to feed the horses, then notify someone who has the means to avoid their hopeless condition. How shameful can this be? Such disregard for these wonderful animals leaves a bad taste in the mouths of someone like me.

    • notyourdaughter

      Sounds like these clowns have the money.

  • Karyn Chapman

    Well, isn’t anyone going to call the Humane Society or ASPCA?? Are they just letting them starve to death??? Someone call the police at least!! What is wrong with people??? How can they just stand with their mouths and eyes shut while Gods Beautiful creatures starve?? Sad world!!!!

    • Karyn Chapman

      Hope they don’t call a kill buyer where they will end up in Mexico or a Canadian slaughter house…to die a horrible death:(((

    • ziggypop

      Do not bother to call the ASPCA. They were called in regards to Reno, BLM’s 2000 wild horses, including newborns, in pens without any shade or shelter.The light skinned horses are sun burned and started to peel. The babies are being born dehydrated. It is a a catastrophe and the BLM only has half halfheartedly put up a sprinkler.

      The ASPCA stated they were “livestock” and would DO NOTHING!!! Though they have a page dedicated to what they have done on behalf of horses. It is disgusting and please do not give them anymore money.

      In the meantime, the horses are standing in that heat without any shade and no one will help them.

    • Jenny

      The police, State Vet, and Department of Agriculture Inspector all have been at the property and are aware of the situation. The welfare of all horses involved is being closely monitored, but not all details can be made public at this time since this is an open investigation. They are innocent until proven guilty, but the animals are being taken care of.

  • notyourdaughter

    Help would have been available from the Ky Equine Humane Center, would it not? No reason for these guys to keep them if they couldn’t afford them. Sorry that Hopewell is going to auction. I remember visiting Skip Away there on a beautiful spring day. They were very accomodating. Hope that it’s going to remain a horse farm.

  • D White

    We are seeing these situations all across the country and it is so sad. The owners are ultimately responsible but there are others who share in the blame, intentional or not. Part of what is happening is the skyrocketing price for hay and feed. When hay goes up 40%, on average, annually it’s not hard to see that someone who once had the means to feed and care for, say 10 horses, now can only afford 6. What to do with the other 4? Well that contributes to more “unwanted horses”. I realize that free enterprise is in play here but greedy hay growers need to see what the results of their mostly unfounded price increases are doing to the livestock industry. Responsible owners know that they have to pay these prices because they have to feed their animals. But what is happening is that more and more people are selling off cows, horses and other livestock because the cost to feed them is too high. So the suppliers will start seeing the demands go down. Didn’t really help themselves in the long run. Maybe there needs to be some kind of regulation?

    • betterthannothing

      According to WLEX-TV reporter Leigh Searcy these horses were “shut in stalls filled with feces” and in “deplorable condition.”

      Never mind the price of hay, grass was available. Why were those horses locked inside?

    • Hobbyfarmer

      The hay growers get more for their hay when they sell it to China, that is a major problem.

    • notyourdaughter

      Pasture would have been available, D White. These horses were in their stalls.

    • ziggypop

      They were locked inside!!!

    • turffan

      Don’t blame the hay farmers. The cost of fuel & fertilizer to produce the hay & other crops has gone through the roof the last few years. Not to mention the labor cost if you can find help. There are dozens of reasons feed and hay cost have risen, farmers getting rich ain’t one of them.

      • JanWindsong

        Don’t cry the blues for the hay farmer. The fields converted to corn and selling to big dollar foreign buyers has kicked the legs out from beneath many a horse owner. It is despicable!

  • notyourdaughter

    They had 48 acres but the horses were locked in their stalls standing in feces? Who are these “veteran horsemen” the Murty brothers?

  • Kroeber

    I worked for the Murty brothers in the 1980s when they had a string at Santa Anita and getting a paycheck out of them was almost impossible. Suffice it to say, I have never thought highly of them but this is absolutely horrifying.

    • notyourdaughter

      77 yr old twin brothers. Maybe they forgot they had horses??

      • woodrigefarm

        No they are known throughout the country I believe for not paying their debts. I worked there six weeks on their farm next to the airport before it was overtaken for much needed runway lengthening. Six weeks never got a paycheck. The horses lived in bad conditions then but it was more cheap like a poor mans farm. I stayed to care for the horses but never being paid was too much after that long cut my losses. He has screwed farriers vets shippers feed suppliers and more employees than I can count. Sad thing is he made a fortune off losing that farm due to the com air crash well over a million dollars. What happened to it ? And yep in ky you can abuse a horse turn right around and keep em and do it again. Or they seize em then give em back. I lost a made this way and beautiful foal that was in the care of someone else. Never again ! Saddest part is it is people with money that are doing the abuse ! Another case where the woman was in the Waldorf Astoria !

  • ziggypop

    You are absolutely correct, these are crimes!!!

  • ziggypop

    They are criminals, just like Clay Ryder is, and they need to be charged.

  • DinkyDiva

    WTH? They were allowed to take these horses away? What in the world is wrong with people? Where is the law enforcement? Grrr, this irritates me beyond belief.

  • Knowitall

    It is Kentucky (and Woodford County) so ain’t nuthin’ gonna happen. Kentucky has some of the worse animal protection laws in the USA.

    • Roisin

      Shame on Kentucky. I believe the state revenue from the horse industry is around 4 billion a year…. Neanderthal mentality but perhaps that is too kind !!

  • Grace

    Leigh… please track down where they are going so we can do something about it! The Murty’s have been bad actors for decades.

    • Denise Steffanus

      …and nothing ever has been done about their bad deeds because they’re the Murtys, so don’t expect this time to be any different.

      • Tony

        It Is NOT because they are “The Murty Brothers” It’s NOT like they are powerful brokers in our area, trust me ! It’s because they are old weasels, that operate in the shadows. Best thing that we can do is expose them to everyone ! How they get naïve owners to come on board is beyond any reasoning ! New Owners get informed !

  • Gina Powell

    When I was training in 2011, the Murty Bros had stalls at Victory Haven Training Center on Russell Cave Road Lexington. They were borrowing bales of hay from trainers back then to feed horses. Then they leased Ken McPeeks barn at Keeneland Training Center while Ken was overseas. I submitted a complaint to the stall man at Keeneland, but my calls were never returned. In the racing business my name is “trouble,” because I report unethical horse practices, and the all boy network doesn’t like it so I’m always denied stalls. To be fair, most Kentucky horse people take good care of their horses while they are racing, but when they are finished is another story.


      they were
      doing the exact same thing in 1988!!!!!

  • In Tears

    This happened in the Finger Lakes NY. I sent a good mare up there. A hauler got suspecious when the women would not let him arrive till after dark. He went back and took pix of the terrible conditions. I found out about the situation while reading The Horse on line. My mare was barely alive when my husband and me were allowed to take her home. I contacted the Jockey Club and hounded them to get involved and that is what has to happen here. The women in NY can no longer own, breed or sell horses. People who know the situation or have experienced the persons in KY must step up to the plate to put a person like this out of business and stop the animal suffering. That means getting the JC and courts involved with the SPCA. I did it and do not regret it.

  • Leo M.

    Well said Lou.

  • betterthannothing

    The Murty brothers are yet another sad reason why all owners (and trainers) should be licensed, all horses registered and microchipped and all abusers, hoarders and fraudsters entered in a national animal-offender registry.

    Animal cruelty, hoarding, irresponsible breeding and neglect are usually caused by serial abusers. If strong animal protective laws existed and were enforced nationwide and a registry exposed the perps, the Murty Brothers would have been kept away from horses long ago.

  • pesposito

    Those are the Murty brothers of Seattle Slew partnership.

  • RedShoesGirl

    maybe this is just an old journalist talking, but mentioning what state we are talking about in the first sentence might be a good idea. i had no idea where woodford county was.

    • Knowitall

      ” Near Versailles, KY” is in first sentence. Was it added after you read it?

      • RedShoesGirl

        must have been, otherwise i wouldn’t have wondered where we were at the beginning. :-)

  • In Tears

    I have read all of the comments. I feel everyone is genuine for what is going on. The big flaw the horses must be taken, vet checked and placed in foster homes as was done in NY. The horses are being watched, monotered! Phoey. Someone needs to take action and move the horses to safe places. Even after horses in NY found safe places the misery continued with starved mares trying to foal weak and dying foals, mares too weak to foal, mares forming blood clots after foaling. Blood clots bursting mares dead before they hit the ground. The horses in stalls had to be carried out cause their hoof walls turned under growing into the soles of their feet. Foals never saw feed and did not know how to eat it, stunted growth. Horses with constant colic trying to eat simple hay cause they were unable to digest it. There is so much more with starving horses trying to recover. Our mare took two years to gain back her weight and many colics, they are so senstive at that point. I am in Pa. People in KY need to make waves and help. Make phone calls, ect

  • In Tears

    Just one other note. The horses pictured are underweight. We brought home a walking broom stick. She was too weak to stand for the four hour ride back to Pa.

    • Stanley inman

      The only place it’s a crime
      To be underweight
      The good old
      USA ( lets not waste those chips, thanks)

      • Roisin

        What exactly is in those chips !! ? Perhaps therein lies your excuse.

  • ernie

    Lock up those owners.

  • cheri

    Greasy devils… Even a mere hint of abuse or neglect of a horse is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. Stupid geezers, slink into the shadows of hell.


    These Murty brothers have been starving and abusing horses in lexington since at least the mid 80’s .They have moved from farm to farm and own countless people money for working for them .The humane society and police and horse community have been aware of them but somehow unable to do anything . I hope this time someone locks them up for good . They are at this moment just moving to another location to continue doing what they do …please keep on this story ….

  • ksbky

    Unless the economy improves, and legislators in Kentucky GET IT and realize the horse business in Kentucky is dying a slow miserable death itself, we will be seeing more of these stories.

  • iamscrappy

    these people should be shot.

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