Horse breeder sentenced to jail on five charges

Some of the Leachman horses near Billings in Montana, at the time of the January 2011 hay delivery.

Some of the Leachman horses near Billings in Montana, at the time of the January 2011 hay delivery.

Former horse breeder James Leachman has been sentenced to jail in Montana on five misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

Justice of the Peace Larry Herman gave Leachman consecutive one-year sentences on each of the the five counts for a total of five years’ jail.

However, the judge suspended all but 120 days of the sentence. He also banned Leachman from owning any hoofed animal for the duration of his sentence. He was also ordered to pay $US5000 in fines.

Leachman,70, had defended the charges before  jury in Yellowstone County Justice Court.

He owned more than 800 horses ultimately removed from Crow tribal land.

The charges related to five horses in particular. Prosecutors alleged he failed to provide adequate care and failed to adjust or remove plastic leg bands as the horses grew, resulting in severe injuries.

Leachman has filed an appeal.

Issues around Leachman’s horses from the former Leachman Cattle Co Home Place ranch, sold in a federal foreclosure sale, came to a head late in 2010.

A big relief effort got under way because of concerns for the wellbeing of the horses during the Montana winter, with several hundred of them in a huge pasture with little feed.

Feed was trucked and airlifted to the horses to keep them fed in an operation co-ordinated through the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings.

In March the following year, about 700 horses from the ranch were gathered by about 50 horsemen from the Crow Tribe. The horses were ultimately sold.


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