When one horse escaped from her barn, her owner knew that he had to get out and retrieve her. What he did next, however, left onlookers shocked beyond belief. In fact, his actions were so outrageous that the police decided to launch an investigation.
Culver Modisette is an author and retired advertising executive who lives in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. There, Modisette bred Labradors, got involved in tree farming and tended to his horse. You could say he lived a pretty quiet life.
But in 2012 the then 86-year-old did something that brought him international attention. And unfortunately, the interest in Modisette was for all the wrong reasons. You see, many people believed he’d almost killed his horse, Annie.
Annie was a beautiful equine – a pure-bred Arabian mare. But in the spring of 2012 she was in heat. This can cause major changes in a horse’s behavior and can often make them irritable or easily distracted.
So, with hormones coursing through her body, Annie went in search of a male with whom she could mate. As a result, she ended up on a neighboring property where she promptly attempted to solicit a stallion.
However, before Annie had a chance to use her charm, her owner arrived on the scene. Modisette was eager to put an end to the mare’s advances and to get her back home as soon as possible. And so he came up with a plan to steer her away from the other horse.
At this point, Modisette’s neighbor, Helen Kelley, emerged to watch the action unfold. And she looked on in horror as the old man tied Annie to the back of his truck. But worse was to follow, as once the retiree had secured the horse to his vehicle, he then started to drive off.
Fearing for the animal’s welfare, Kelley pulled out a camera and began to take photographs of the episode. As the mare was dragged away, it’s clear that her instincts kicked in. Yes, Annie tried to resist the force of the car pulling her, but then the horse seemed to stumble and fell to the ground.
With Annie lying on her side, Modisette stopped driving, so as not to drag her along the track. At this point, though, Kelley grew hysterical, and she began shouting at the elderly man, imploring him to untie the horse.
“I started screaming to him, ‘Stop, you’re killing your horse, cut the rope!’” Kelley relayed to WFSB in April 2012. And Modisette didn’t need telling twice, and he subsequently swiftly untied Annie from his truck.
From there, Modisette was able to walk Annie back to his property, and he believed he’d done no harm to the horse. Some of his neighbors thought differently, however, and reported him to the Connecticut State Police, who then launched an investigation.
Soon, the incident made local headlines and Modisette was forced to defend himself. “What else was I going to do?” he asked when questioned over his actions. “I’ve got to bring her down, I can’t leave her up there.”
Moreover, Modisette added that it was never his intention to harm Annie or cause her distress. “I was just trying to get her down in her stable for her breakfast and apples and so forth,” Modisette said. “No malicious intent.”
And the author also noted that, in hindsight, he shouldn’t have tied Annie to his vehicle. “I regret that I put her on the back of the truck,” he said. “That was a mistake, but what else was I going to do? She just about threw me across the woods when I tried to walk her down.”
Modisette’s excuses were of little comfort to Kelley, though, who had feared that the outcome could have been much worse for Annie. “Really, he could’ve broken her neck,” she said. “It was a sad thing to watch.”
Following the incident, a vet examined Annie and determined that she’d only suffered minor scrapes to her legs. With minimal damage done to the animal, then, State Police Lt. Paul Vance defended Annie’s owner. Indeed, the cop said that Modisette had simply tried to secure his unruly mare in heat in order to bring her home.
And Vance wasn’t the only person to come out in defense of the horse owner, either. The lady that gave Annie to Modisette said that, despite his mistake, he loved the horse. And she went on to suggest that people should have helped the elderly gentleman rather than taking pictures.
Not everyone was so forgiving, however. “The guy probably should be made to divest himself of any animals. He clearly is incapable of making good decisions about how to treat them,” read one comment on Connecticut news site The Day.
In the end, though, Stafford Springs Animal Control and Connecticut State Police decided not to file charges against Modisette. They said that the horse owner had not acted maliciously and no real harm had come to Annie.
With that said, however, there’s no denying that Modisette’s actions were dangerous and could have severely harmed his mare. But how are you supposed to control a horse in heat? Well, Practical Horseman magazine suggests hormone therapy and herbal supplements as possible fixes. As with most animal matters, though, your first port of call should be a vet.