Marshall County Sessions Court Judge Steve Bowden on Tuesday lifted an order protecting horses that had allegedly suffered abuse, according to the owner's attorney and a sheriff's deputy.
Derrick Ulmers of Eagleville Pike told court officers that he has property at Shelbyville where he will move some of the horses and that he plans to sell the rest, Deputy Sean Sweeney said, adding that Ulmers' case will be called again at a later date.
Ulmers, 38, had about 20 horses in a pasture along Harris Cemetery Road in May when an anonymous caller told sheriff's officials that it appeared as though they were starving. Deputies confirmed that one horse was lying on the ground and others seemed to be in bad health with ribs and hip bones protruding under the animals' skin.
Deputies called for advise from Rick Skillington, county director for the University of Tennessee Extension Service. He confirmed their poor health, recommending they be seized and fed.
Ulmers was charged with animal cruelty and his arrest warrant states there had been half a dozen other complaints about the health of his horses since November.
A court order to protect the animals stated the 15-acre pasture where the horses were found had no grass or hay and two feeding troughs were empty.
That's apparently changed, as Deputy Sweeney reported on Tuesday that Ulmers "has been feeding the horses … and their health has improved."
Skillington substantiated some of the information.
UT's county director checked on the horses on a Friday nearly three weeks ago after he was told there was no water for the horses, Skillington said. He found no horses, but saw that there was water and hay available.
Skillington believes the horses were in that fenced field, he said. He saw that the fence remained locked with a sheriff's lock.
Furthermore, it appears that Ulmers has a buyer for some of the horses, Skillington said, relying on information from others in court on Tuesday and Deputy Sweeney substantiated that.
"The case was reset for August," Skillington said. "If the gentleman can do what he says he will, then that satisfies me."
Ulmers is represented by Luke A. Evans of Bullock, Fly and Hornsby in Murfreesboro.
"No plea has been entered at this time," Evans said.