Was Jon Stewart’s Paintball Horse Abused? Former Owner Says No

Jon Stewart has ridden in on the proverbial white steed again; except this time, it was the horse who needed rescue. However, Lily’s story continues to get weirder.

Stewart, who with his wife Tracey is opening a New Jersey animal sanctuary, stepped forward on behalf of Lily, the mare. She had been abandoned at a New Holland horse auction, covered in splatters from a paintball gun.

However, Lily’s former owner is saying that there was no paintball gun.

On Friday, following an extensive search, Phillip S. Price, 65, of East Providence, Rhode Island, was convicted of three counts of animal cruelty associated with Lily.

Police began hunting for the person who had anonymously dropped the mare at the auction site on March 14. She was found tied to a post, bruised and blinking in pain. Thanks to surveillance cameras, the man was identified and eventually found.

Price was charged with three counts of animal cruelty, a single count of dealing and handling animals without a license, and a single count of importing animals without an interstate health certificate.

Price was convicted after a trial in New Holland before District Judge Rodney Hartman. He was ordered to pay $3,056 in fines and $10,178 towards Lily’s care and recovery, according to Lancaster Online.

When Lily was found, she was malnourished and in tremendous pain due to multiple bruising from being shot dozens of times with paintballs. She was suffering from uveitis, an inflammation, in both of her eyes. According to Pennlive, Lily had to have one eye removed, and the other was treated, restoring 80 percent of her vision on that side.

Witnesses in the trial included veterinarians who treated the mare, a representative of the county SPCA, a manager from the auction house, and the police detective who had filed charges.

Lily had created a public uproar, and the paintball gun story was featured on national news.

Her rescue follows another farm animal scooped up by the Stewarts, a bull named Frank.

But Lily’s former owner, Doreen Weston, said that the mare was not abused and had not been shot with paintball guns. The horse was instead used as a canvas for children’s finger-painting parties.

“We’ve done that for years, put paint on the horse. She loved it. The kids love it. It’s not toxic. It’s fingerpaint. Then we would put her out in the pasture and it would wash off. If it got shot with a paintball gun, that was done somewhere else.”

Weston, owner of Smoke Hollow Farm in Pittstown, New Jersey, said the horse is about 35-years-old. She has owned the mare since the late 1990s. According to The Morning Call, Weston had turned the horse over to the dealer, Phillip Price, because she wanted the mare euthanized.

Weston said the mare had no quality of life due to deteriorating eyesight and bad teeth. She had contacted Price to take the mare in February. Price said, “she assumed the dealer would euthanize the horse, but didn’t tell him to.”

Court records show that Price is on probation in Rhode Island after pleading no contest to animal cruelty in July. The current charges were based mainly on his transporting an animal in poor condition.

Sue Martin, director of the Lancaster County SPCA, said her investigation discovered that Lily had been used as a riding lesson horse at Weston’s farm for the last 15 years.

“The horse produced income for that stable for 15 years and then the owner decided she was no longer of use and wanted to throw her away like trash.”

Weston suggested that maybe Lily is not the same horse. After all, Lily was estimated to be Arabian and Appaloosa, and the paint-covered horse that Weston relinquished to Price was a purebred Polish Arabian mare.

“There was no Appaloosa in it. I never owned an Appaloosa.”

“I have doubts this is my horse. If it is, somebody is making a big mistake in their evaluation.”

Now with her polished white sheen, and 100 pounds heavier, Lily certainly does look different from the agonized mare who was left at the auction site.

Jon Stewart’s wife, Tracey, said that people treat animals like they are disposable and that the relationship between humans and animals needs to change.

“I think Lily’s story will be a big part of telling why that’s so necessary and important.”

[Photo by Matt Roarke/AP]