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Portland horse trainer faces 20 counts of animal cruelty

This past spring, state animal control officials began investigating multiple claims of abuse to horses trained by Alexis Wall, 30, of East Hampton.

PORTLAND, Conn. — A local horse trainer is free on a $100,000 bond after being charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty for the way she is alleged to have trained horses for White Birch Farm in Portland.

There was not much visible activity at White Birch Farm Thursday. However, when a FOX61 crew walked to the back of the property to ask to speak with the owner, they were asked to leave the property. 

This past spring, state animal control officials began investigating multiple claims of abuse to horses trained by Alexis Wall, 30, of East Hampton.

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"The poor horses," said Susan McCann, of Middle Haddam, when told of the allegations.

The arrest warrant, which charges Wall with 20 counts of animal cruelty, alleges several horses had been subjected to cruel punishments such as withholding food and water and tying for long periods of time, excessive use of spurs and being ridden hard for long periods too.

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"It's too bad," McCann said. "And you know what, the horses can't talk and they are the ones that are suffering."

FOX61 provided a long-time local horse trainer with a copy of the warrant.

"I can't speak for what's going on there," said Linda O'Hara, owner of Fortunato Farm in Killingworth. "I don't know her and I don't know her training techniques, but I do know that a lot of what was talked about (in the warrant), used in the correct manner, is OK."

The warrant alleges Wall was harsh, though. One complainant explained when Wall did not like a horse's behavior she "took his head and slammed it into the wall." 

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"I just can't believe anyone would think that they could put a horse through that with that kind of pain and get away with it," said Jeff Waskiewicz of Haddam.

Another complainant alleges Wall once said "Pain is an important part of training, that horses listen to pain and that pain must be great enough to make a lasting impression."

O'Hara disagrees.

"If you're training a horse correctly, getting through to them properly and nicely It is going to give you a good outcome," she said.

Alexis Wall is due in court in Middletown on Sept. 15, according to the state judicial website. 

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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