TALLAHASSEE, FL (#WTXLDigital) - The trial for a man accused of neglecting horses began in Tallahassee on Tuesday and is expected to continue on Thursday.
Twelve horses were seized by the Leon County Sheriff's Office from Edward Moragne's property on Moccasin Gap Road in February of this year. Ten of those horses were determined to belong to Moragne and two of them belonged to a man named Maurice Gilmore.
Moragne is listed as an adjunct instructor for Florida A&M University's Division of Agricultural Science.
The seizure came after numerous trips to the property by Leon County Animal Control officers who claimed at the trial they witnessed the deterioration of the horses on the property throughout their continued visits, beginning in 2013.
During the trial, Moragne's defense claimed that he was taking in horses that were already in bad shape and was working to rehabilitate them.
Dr. Scott Richardson, the veterinarian who evaluated the horses on Moragne's property and contributed to the decision to remove the horses from Moragne's care, spoke at Tuesday's trial. Richardson described the condition of the horses when he originally saw them in February and how they have improved since.
According to Richardson, when he first looked at the horses, they all scored between a 2 to 4 on the Henneke horse body condition score. The Henneke score is assigned to horses to determine the amount of fat on their body. It goes from 1 to 9; 1 being extremely skinny and 9 being extremely fat. Richardson says ideally horses should score a 5 or 6.
When the horses were re-evaluated in April of this year, about 2 months after the were taken from Moragne’s care, and all of them had improved to at least a 4. According to Richardson, this is because the horses' teeth were fixed and they were put on a proper diet.
Former Leon County Animal Control Officer Molly Strauss-Harrison also testified on Tuesday. She was one of the officers who visited the property in response to calls from a neighbor concerned about the condition of the animals.
Strauss-Harrison explained to jury members that beginning in 2014, she visited Moragne's property a total of 9 times. During those visits she said she witnessed dirty water tanks, hay that looked weathered and moldy and horses that appeared to be suffering from rain-rot.
During her visits, Strauss-Harrison said she spoke with Moragne about giving some of the horses to Triple R Horse Rescue but that he eventually changed his mind, saying he wanted to find homes for them himself.