By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Cesar Parra, who rode for Colombia in the 2004 Olympics and became an American citizen to ride for the United States at the Pan American Games last year, has been formally charged by the state of New Jersey with “torment, torture” and “abuse” of a horse in 2009.
Two complaints–one criminal and one civil–were filed by Ashley Meyer, an officer of the Society for `the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, about an hour from New York City. An SPCA officer in New Jersey is recognized as a fully authorized law enforcement officer.
Summons were issued by the state of New Jersey where Cesar Parra has a farm in Whitehouse Station to appear in Readington Township Municipal Court in Whitehouse Station on April 5 to answer charges of “torment, torture” and “overdrive, overwork…abuse” of a living animal on or about June 6, 2009.
The charges were filed against Cesar Parra, who is based in Jupiter, Florida, while competing on the winter circuit, based on alleged mistreatment of the horse, William PFF, three years ago.
If convicted of the charges under New Jersey’s anti-cruelty statutes, Cesar Parra would face a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
The filing of the charges has been reported in daily newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
A spokeperson for Cesar Parra said he has retained legal counsel to address the filings in the Readington Township Municipal Court and “fully expects the charges will be dismissed as the sad true facts about the accident in question come to light.”
Cesar Parra. the spokesperson said, does not deny the horse was injured in an incident involving his evaluation of the horse. The owner had sought Cesar Parra’s opinion about her young dressage prospect at his facility in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey in 2009.
In the presence of the owner and several observers, the horse was longed.
“Without warning and unpredictably, apparently in response to an outside stimulus, the horse suddenly exhibited dangerous behavior, reared, lost his balance and fell over backwards striking his head on the ground,” the spokesperson said.
“Dr. Parra is deeply saddened that the horse was injured, but categorically denies any allegation of cruelty, abuse, gross negligence, recklessness or any other inappropriate conduct in the handling of the horse.”
For Colombia, he won team silver at the 1999 Pan American Games and rode in the 2003 Pan Ams, and competed at the 2002 and 2006 World Equestrian Games, the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2005 World Cup Final in Las Vegas.
As an American, he won the U.S. Intermediaire Championship in 2010
He rode on the U.S. team that won gold at the Pan American Games that was competed at small tour in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year. He was also the only Pan Am equestrian competitor to receive a “yellow card” for rules violations.
The latest Grand Prix horse he has competed is Van the Man, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Obelisk x Lady x Landjunker) bought as an Olympic prospect. The horse was previously ridden by Dorothee Schneider of Germany.