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Bartow Riding Program Executive Director Arrested After 8 Horses Found in Bad Condition

The executive director of a well-known riding program catering to veterans and children facing challenges has been arrested on charges of abuse and neglect.

Sarah Montejo Lopez, the head of TN Vika Road 60 riding program located just outside of Bartow, is now facing legal consequences for the mistreatment of animals.

This development comes in light of a recent investigation that uncovered a distressing number of horses in poor health.

Authorities from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Hope Equine Rescue stepped in to rescue the animals.

The horses were transported in trailers and taken to the rescue facility for immediate care.

These horses were previously part of the Tin Vico Riding Academy, which had a stellar reputation in the past, hosting open houses and fundraisers to support its mission of teaching horse riding to veterans and children facing challenges.

However, the situation changed when Sarah Montejo Lopez assumed control of the program and relocated the horses to a new property.

Upon inspection, it became evident that the new location lacked basic necessities for the well-being of the horses.

There was a scarcity of water, grass, and visible food on the property.

The animals were subjected to a dire living situation, resulting in their gradual deterioration.

They became increasingly emaciated, developed skin issues, and encountered various health problems.

Fortunately, since their rescue, the horses have shown remarkable signs of recovery.

Some have gained significant weight, with one horse putting on 100 pounds within just a month.

Despite their progress, the consequences for Sarah Montejo Lopez are severe.

She has been arrested on one count of abuse due to a horse’s deteriorated condition that necessitated euthanasia, and an additional seven counts of neglect pertaining to the other horses’ well-being.

As a result of these charges, she now faces potential jail time.

However, unlike her neglectful treatment of the horses, she will be taken care of and fed while incarcerated.

The rescued horses will continue their rehabilitation under the care of Hope Equine Rescue, with the hope of finding them new homes where they can receive the care and attention they deserve.

The case highlights the importance of animal welfare and the severe consequences individuals may face for neglect and abuse.

It serves as a reminder that proper care and compassion are essential when dealing with animals entrusted to our care, particularly in programs aimed at supporting vulnerable populations such as veterans and children facing challenges.

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