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Farrier acknowledges incomplete records for horses in Hoskins case

The farrier who examined and treated all 73 of Beth Lynne Hoskins' Morgan horses for a multitude of alleged hoof problems acknowledged Monday that the notes taken for him led to incomplete records.

"I had 73 horses that needed to be trimmed as soon as possible," Joshua Burkhardt said under cross-examination during Hoskins' animal-cruelty trial. "As we found horses lamer than others, we treated them first. The situation was chaotic."

"Because of the volume of this, I worked with different people every day, who took notes. It was exhausting to trim the horses," said Burkhardt, the prosecution's third witness, who spent his third day on the stand in Aurora Town Court. "There was just so much work, and too much going on, that I didn't clarify [enough] to the note-takers.

Hoskins is accused of 74 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty stemming from the SPCA's March 2010 raid at her Aurora horse farm. Her nonjury trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

The fifth day of the trial turned largely into an examination of the extent of hoof care and alleged problems -- and whether they were noted in records of the SPCA.

Defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou pointed out limited photographs of the horses' hooves and minimal hoof measurements of lameness not noted in the veterinary records.

Under cross-examination, Burkhardt acknowledged there were incomplete notations of problems for individual horses' hooves, including a lack of measurements for many.

Burkhardt has testified that all 73 horses had some form of thrush infection on their hooves and that they all had at least a 3-inch measurement of heel, indicating hoof overgrowth. But under cross-examination, he acknowledged that some records did not mention any thrush, or until at least weeks later, when some notations were made.

At one point, Eoannou demanded that Burkhardt tell him how many times he was at the Niagara County Fairgrounds to examine the horses in a 74-day stretch, indicating it was about 16 times.

"Were there days in April you weren't there?" Eoannou asked.

The question led to confusion in the courtroom.

"There's no way I could do all those horses in 16 days," Burkhardt said. "This was two years ago. I don't remember how many times I was there in April. I don't remember the timelines."

Town Justice Douglas W. Marky looked at Eoannou and said: "Your question is part question and part threat."

After a 30-minute recess that included an out-of-courtroom meeting with the attorneys, both sides agreed that records showed Burkhardt appeared 19 times to treat the horses out of 76 days from shortly after the March 18, 2010, raid to June 1, 2010.

SPCA Assistant Farm Manager Patricia Burg also testified Monday, mostly about the size of the manure packs she was asked to measure in the barn on the day of the raid.

With a yardstick, Burg told prosecutor G. Michael Drmacich that she measured packs from eight horses she named in court, with the highest point she referenced for Coco, measuring 24 1/2 inches high to as low as 4 1/2 inches in the stall.

"Some of the stalls had probably days' worth [of manure], and some had weeks or more," Burg testified, noting that horse stalls should be cleaned daily or, at the very least, every other day, if a horse lives full time inside a stall.