In a truly horrifying case of horse abduction and slaughter, it has been reported that a top-level grand prix prospect, the 12-year-old Selle Francis gelding Phedras De Blondel, was stolen from its stall and slaughtered on the property of Centennial Farm, the Palmetto, Florida home base of Olympic level rider Debbie Stephens and her husband, course designer Steve Stephens.
Phedras De Blondel, (Fetiche De Pas SF x Belphegor IV) was found dead with large pieces of meat removed from his body on Sunday morning, October 25th. Stephens was at home on the property at the time of the abduction, asleep in her house that is attached to the barn. This local news story shows the horse’s stall covered by police tape. The horse, who had arrived to Stephens’ farm just 48 hours prior to the gruesome discovery, was a successful CSI2* jumper with recent top finishes in grand prix competition at Le Pin and Le Mans, France. Trained and brought up the levels by French rider Christian Hermon, Phedras De Blondel was sold by Nicolas Paillot and Arly Golombek on October 18th, and was shipped to the United States this week. He left quarantine at Miami International Airport on Thursday, October 22nd and was transported to the Stephens’ farm by horse van, arriving late Thursday night. He was meant to continue his grand prix career in the United States.
Palmetto, Florida lies outside of Tampa, just three hours northwest of Wellington, Florida. This news comes on the heels of the shutdown of several illegal Palm Beach County slaughterhouses, which were located just miles from the famed Winter Equestrian Festival showgrounds. That animal cruelty bust was the largest in U.S. history, but this horrific news is certain proof that the illegal slaughter of horses remains a rampant, and terrifying problem in the state of Florida.
Neither Debbie nor Steve Stephens could be reached for comment at this time.
UPDATE: A gofundme page has been established to collect CrimeStoppers reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this crime. Visit this link for more information and to donate.