DA: Trainer Fatally Injured Horse With 'Powerful Blow'

Canadian trainer arrested in NY has a history of excessively whipping horses
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2024 5:08 PM CST
DA: Trainer Fatally Injured Horse With 'Powerful Blow'
Stock photo of harness racing.   (Getty Images/grafficx)

A Canadian harness racing trainer accused of hitting a horse at an upstate New York facility so hard that it had to be euthanized was arrested after he returned to the US on Tuesday. Law enforcement sources and PETA officials tell the Times Union that 25-year-old Frederick Bourgault hit the animal with a metal pipe after it stepped on his foot at the Pine Bush Training Facility in July. A veterinarian was called in to euthanize the horse, and it was buried at the facility around 60 miles north of New York City, the AP reports. The horse, named Finish Line, was exhumed after police received a complaint from PETA and launched an investigation. PETA said it was contacted by a whistleblower.

"This was an incredibly powerful blow to the horse's head, above his eye, which caused this fracture," Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said, per the Times Union. "There was no remedy or medical procedure to treat that injury." Bourgault has been charged with two felonies, criminal mischief and causing injuries to a domestic animal. The trainer has been fined at least three times in recent years for excessively whipping horses in the US and Canada. In 2022, he was fined $1,000 and ordered to go to anger management classes after he whipped a horse that lost a race at New York's Monticello Speedway. He was fined again last year.

"As a society we cannot tolerate the mistreatment of horses or other animals, who cannot protect themselves," Hoovler said in a statement. PETA said it is one of the worst cases of cruelty to a racehorse it has encountered. "Bourgault is a repeat offender who should have been booted from racing years ago and banned the first time he whipped a horse after a race was over," said Kathy Guillermo, PETA senior vice president. (More horse racing stories.)

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