Mare mutilated reward offered Actions by cult are suspected

August 18, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The owners of a Lisbon horse center are offering a $1,000 reward for information about the people who sexually mutilated an 18-year-old mare Sunday night.

"Everybody is at risk," said Helen Tuel, director of the Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center on Frederick Road in Lisbon. "This is only an animal. Next time, they could violate an individual."

Ms. Tuel said she thinks the attack occurred after 7 p.m. Sunday. When several horses in the corral seemed agitated about 11:30 p.m., her husband, John, went to investigate.

Mr. Tuel noticed that a steel gate was damaged and that a favorite mare, Gypsy, was bleeding from several cuts on her left side. He assumed that the mare had cut herself on the gate.

On Monday, when riding instructor Karen Seals went to apply medication to the cuts, she noticed blood on the animal's tail and legs, and a huge gash on the left hindquarter next to her genitals. "It wasn't a gate wound; it was a knife wound," Ms. Seals said. "A huge slit 8 to 9 inches long. [The attackers] had also put the knife into her vagina."

Ms. Tuel said: "I am sure the pain was incredible. She crashed through the gate trying to get away."

The mare is a chestnut quarter-horse and a favorite of children at the center. It has received stitches, painkillers and antibiotics, and is expected to recover, although Ms. Tuel said she is worried about the possibility of infection.

In the 10 years that the center has been open, there have been only two other episodes in which horses had scratches on their flanks, Ms. Tuel said.

She said the earlier attacks appeared to be the work of teen-agers who had been drinking.

Since Monday, Ms. Tuel has been alerting her neighbors to the possibility that their horses and animals are vulnerable to what she called "a brutal, senseless act by someone greatly in need of help."

Ms. Tuel said she is worried that the attack may have been commited by a cult. Two equestrian magazines to which she xTC subscribes have warned readers about cults that have sexually mutilated mares in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, she said.

Equally disturbing, she said, is the fact that the people who committed the act had to be familiar with horses and know that she keeps them.

The center is so inconspicuous that passers-by could overlook it. The attack did not take place in the front near the road, but in the fields behind the center. Also, most people would not know a mare from a gelding, she said, and would be afraid to approach a horse for fear of being kicked. But these attackers felt comfortable going at night to the fields behind the center and approaching the horses, she said.

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