A woman facing six misdemeanor counts of ill-treatment of animals after authorities seized six horses on Johns Island this month will continue to teach riding classes to College of Charleston students, officials said Monday.
Rebecca Howsley has a five-year, $513,000 contract with the college to teach riding to students at Kennerleigh Farm on Johns Island. The college is in the second year of its contract with Howsley, said Mike Robertson, the college senior director of media relations.
"She is a certified instructor of riding. As of right now, we are honoring the contract. We are monitoring the situation," Robertson said.
Eighty-eight students paid $360 each to take a riding course at the farm this fall, he said.
The Charleston County Sheriff's Office searched Kennerleigh Farm on Aug. 20 and inspected 30 horses there with assistance from a veterinarian. Six horses described as emaciated were seized and placed in foster care.
Howsley's attorney, Capers Barr, said a magistrate's hearing in the case scheduled Friday in Hollywood was postponed because expert witnesses for the county and Howsley could not attend.
If there was any neglect of the six horses, it was not intentional, he said. "At worst, Ms. Howsley just got in over her head," Barr said.
Two of the six horses seized had previously been rescued by Howsley from conditions in which they were being neglected, Barr said.
Barr said he will request a jury trial of the six counts of ill-treatment of animals filed against Howsley. The maximum penalty per charge is $1,092 or 60 days in jail, officials said.
A magistrate will determine whether to return the horses, uphold the seizure or return them to Howsley with specific conditions for their care, Barr said.
The Sheriff's Office has been monitoring the condition of the remaining 24 horses at the farm to ensure that they are receiving proper care.
Four of the horses seized are on the mend at the Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network in Meggett. The other two have been placed in private foster care.
The malnourished horses are receiving hay and high-quality feed to build up their systems so they can be treated for worms and then vaccinated.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at email@example.com.