A father-son duo in Iron County is accused of castrating their neighbor’s horses — including a prized stallion — in what horseman Allen Bailey describes as "a feud like an old-West range war."
But Bailey’s rival, 76-year-old Marvin Hunt, said that the story boils down to a "trumped-up charge."
Bailey grazes his 25 horses on a 10,000-acre swath of land north of Beryl, also occupied by cattle, llamas and about 20 horses owned by Marvin Hunt and his son Colby.
About four years ago, the Hunts told Bailey they didn’t want to breed their horses anymore, so Bailey moved his Missouri Foxtrotter registered stallion, Confetti Magic, to a friend’s spread about 100 miles away, Bailey said. But he brought the stud horse back after discovering his mares had mated with stud horses in the Hunts’ herd.
A new social order developed upon Confetti Magic’s return, Bailey said.
"My stallion basically took over the herd because he’s the big daddy — the oldest, dominant one," Bailey said. "He was giving me some beautiful colts."
But Confetti Magic’s pinto genes were not prized by all, Bailey said. The Hunts had professed a preference for chestnut and bay quarter horses. Both owners refused to remove their stud horses, and "that started the feud," Bailey said.
Bailey’s horses began to appear in the Hunts’ corral, according to court documents. In 2012, Bailey said he noticed his mares did not foal on their usual schedule and then produced a generation of bays — with no pintos.
"I’m sorry, but my herd stallion is not going to let that happen," Bailey said.
In April, Bailey again called deputies to report his horses were penned in the Hunts’ corral, investigators wrote in charges filed Tuesday in Cedar City’s 5th District Court. The horses were released later that day, but Bailey found that at least four of the males had been gelded — including Confetti Magic.
Investigators interviewed a local horse trainer who said the Hunts had enlisted him to perform the gelding on the day Bailey reported the horses had been taken, deputies wrote. The gelder said he had thought the horses belonged to the Hunts, deputies wrote. The gelder also said that Colby Hunt, 38, had asked him to tell investigators that he "was only ‘looking at the horses’ and not to say anything else about the incident," deputies wrote.
Bailey said Confetti Magic’s value has descended from over $10,000 to the cost of a typical riding horse, a loss of several thousand dollars, plus the loss of future offspring.
Marvin and Colby Hunt were charged with one second-degree felony count each of wanton destruction of livestock; Colby Hunt also was charged with third-degree felony witness tampering. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 30.
Marvin Hunt denied the allegations but would not comment further while the case is pending.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.