Get Updates



River Ranch Educational Charities


By J.B. Blocker
Journalistic Incompetence

   I received a phone call from a friend and respected journalist Karen Brown. She had read a story in the Dallas Morning News about animal cruelty at Storybook Ranch in McKinney. Knowing that I am an avid horse lover living in McKinney she commented that the story smelled of one-sided reporting.

  When I read the article, I was appalled at the total lack of investigation and yes, her instincts were right! It didn’t smell one-sided. It stunk of bias or incompetence.

  Here is the link if you want to read it first. Then, I am going to tear it up for the hogwash that it is!

What gives me the right?

  You see, I happen to ride at Storybook and it has been my equestrian home for over 5 years. I am often there several times a week. I have taken my grandchildren there since they were located at Frisco Horse Park.
Lila at Horse Camp
 My now 10 year old Lila walks among the many horses fearlessly and I have taught her horsemanship since she was 5. She has attended summer horse camps there and spends nearly every weekend with her Popeye (that’s me!). 
Lila on one of my favorites, Santana
Some of that is because she is just like me. She always wants to be around the horses. She loves to feed, groom, and she is learning to work the round pen. Lila roams the properties like she owns the place!

  During this period I have become close friends with owner Wayne Kirk, the General Manager Vanessa Fry, the ranch manager Howard Rust, and all the management staff throughout the years. I would safely call myself a fixture.

  After their cautious and careful vetting at the beginning, Vanessa and Wayne gained confidence in my responsible capabilities and I quickly earned their trust and even the code to the gate locks! The first time I met her, I told Vanessa (who is an incurable animal advocate) that I was so tuned to nature that butterflies land on me and wild birds eat out of my hands. The next time I showed up and shared some BBQ on a picnic table, Vanessa was slightly shocked and pleased to see that a butterfly had landed on my sleeve! “I told you so!”

  That’s not surprising since I grew up in Sunray, an agricultural community in the panhandle of Texas. I had a tractor driving license before my TDL. My first time card job was during the summer of my Jr. Year as a hand at the Sunray Feed Yard. I am so tuned to animals that I often surprise people when their dogs, cats, and even horses seek me out.

Would I lie to you?

  All of my claims are well documented. You see, I am also a seasoned journalist and my personal website is To add to my credibility, I can claim dozens of our highest elected officials as clients who have trusted me with their campaigns. I am currently engaged by Congressional candidates, judges, mayors, commissioners, and am the Sr. Advisor and Campaign Manager for Cami Dean for U.S. Congress, 3rd District.

That's me with Texas Sheriffs Board of Directors
   For just a bit more credibility, last year the Board of Directors of the Sheriffs Association of Texas confirmed me as an authorized historian. I count among my friends and confidants dozens of sheriffs. Just ask the sheriffs of Collin, Denton, Grayson, Rockwall, or Dallas what they think of me just to get you started.

Horse Camp with Mayor Loughmiller
  Unlike the DMN reporter, I am as valid and journalistically responsible as any witness you can find! I have gladly brought personal friends Mayor Brian Loughmiller, Sheriff Terry Box, Judges Angela Tucker, Associate Probate Judge Terri Green, and even Attorney General candidate Senator Ken Paxton to Storybook just to name a few.

Fellow Animal Lovers

  Howard and Vanessa’s beloved dogs come to me like a friend. Their dogs are their children! Several horse owners who board their horses with Wayne grudgingly acknowledge that their steeds sometimes prefer me.

  Whenever new rescue horses are taken in, I can’t wait to walk the pastures to see how quickly I can lay my hands on each of them! I know all of the horses over 5 years.

  Most come in sad, afraid, missing their pasture mates, malnourished, and even injured.  Wayne has a hard time turning them down. He takes in donkeys no one wants, goats, chickens, pigs, and even old horses with their only redeeming value being that they are still alive. Most of these animals arrive in a state we call Stressed. They have a hard time holding weight much less gaining it.

R.C., Vanessa, Collin County Judge Kieth Self, Assoc. Judge Terri Green, Wayne Kirk, and Lila

   I became friends with the on-call veterinarian Dr. Bill Anderson and had my doubts about a retired volunteer vet. Bill Carter who I was glad to see leave. At first I accepted him as a welcomed volunteer but quickly lost respect for him.   My radar goes up whenever someone acts or thinks that they know more about horses and animal husbandry than they really do.  I despised him after he gave medication to horses without checking in or reporting his treatments. I blame him and Karla Santiago for that irresponsibility!

  Over the years, many volunteer staffers came and went as their weaknesses were revealed.  Karla Santiago who was the chief source of the DMN article was to me clearly not as competent as she thought she was. She would have been fine feeding and watering, handling tack, grooming, and even as an event hostess, but in my mind, she took too much personal credit. Like many people in life, she didn’t know how much she didn’t know!

  I also blame Karla for moving two new rescue horses into a pasture with an unfamiliar herd just so her personal horse could have separation. It was because of this that the two horses were injured. I was angry at her when I heard what happened.  One was kicked in the penis and it was mangled the other bitten badly.

  Now unless you have a bucket full of money, the best you can do in that situation is give them a treatment to prevent infection and then let them heal naturally. Plastic surgery might be called for if you are human, but really! These are rescue horses! Both horse eventually filled out and healed, but that penis is always going to be mangled.

  I blame myself slightly for teasing Karla when Storybook had a vast overstock of kid goats that needed to be thinned.  I was unhappy with some of her selfish management of the horses. She had taken a couple of babies on as personal pets. Kid goats are very cute and appealing until they start maturing. I have several friends in the hill country who raise them. We regularly have a Pit BBQ when friends gather.

  I realize that it was mean spirited when I told her they were quite delicious and I wanted to have a BBQ. She took it very badly and hated me thereafter. I wasn’t kidding and was amused that she took it so hard! They really are delicious!

Trusting Wayne

  R.C. Caldwell and Shannon Fields who have boarded their prize horses with Wayne for many years became my friends. In fact, we are good friends.

R.C. with a new prize colt
R.C. has known Wayne for 20 years and from 2005 to 2112 he boarded with Wayne. He bought his own property in 2012. I miss his company and watching him work with his stock. Ask him which is his prize horse and he will tell you ‘All of Them’! The value of his pets range from $15,000 on up. They truly are prizes and I would love to own such fine stock.

Shannon on Avery with Bella
  Shannon and I see each other often. She and my Lila have become friends and she always includes my little wrangler in taking care of her horses. She currently keeps four very nice animals. One is an excellent Tennessee Walker. Her Cutting Horse Bella is one Lila and I have both ridden. She also owns a mare and her filly from the blood line of Secretariat. The mare, Avery, is the horse that likes me better than anyone else. She is my motivation to visit regularly.

  I feel guilty if I don’t care for her. You should realize that most horses are like your dog or even your child once they get attached to someone. They miss you, are possessive of you, and are visibly pleased to be near you. Avery and I have that kind of attachment!

  My point is that these responsible horse owners trusted Wayne with their children. We were all very aware of real truth about the entire goings which was falsely reported. We can all validate that the reporting was inaccurate and spun by a pitiful act of disgraceful journalism and a disgraced employee.

  Charges were pressed but were dropped easily. Of course that kind of action is always a blemish. I plan on wiping that blemish away permanently. For those who know Wayne Kirk, the love of animals is stronger than his common sense sometimes. He will take them in and spend his money when lesser people would walk away.

The Draught of 2011
The drought of 2011 was Texas' most intense one-year drought on record, and its devastation remains fresh. Agriculture in Texas lost $7.6 billion that year, including $3.2 billion in livestock losses, such as selling off cattle or the unmanageable higher costs for feed. Pastures were left cracked and barren by triple-digit heat, far too little rain and windier than normal conditions.
At its worst, 88 percent of the state was in the most severe stage of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor map.

Fox News

Sheriff Pat Burnett, center and Sheriff Joel Richardson, right
During this period horses were being given away, unwanted donkeys were just released to the highways. My friend Sheriff Pat Burnett of Van Zandt is currently the SPCA’s consultant for animal cruelty. He and I discussed the incredibly devastating effect it had on livestock and their owners all over the state.

  No one really wants donkeys so thousands were just released. Feed yards who make their profit from ‘the Gain’ had to have the ranchers take back their stock because not only was feed hard to obtain, it was very over priced, and the livestock was losing weight anyway.

  It was during this time that Wayne Kirk and Storybook took in several malnourished animals. If you know him, it is hard for him to turn away an orphaned horse. Many were transported to his West Texas ranch and those who had the age and temperament to become trail and training horses were kept in McKinney.

  There was no way to keep weight on animals all over Texas and beyond during this time. Hell, I lost 10 pounds myself! There was no grass and the land was dry and cracking everywhere including our own residential lawns. The heat was constantly unbearable. As the hot, dry breezes swept across Texas the lakes were reduced to dangerous levels and the water evaporated from the tanks almost as fast as the horses could drink.

  Anyone with any horse sense knows and understands what the conditions were like during and after the drought of 2011 and what it was doing to all the livestock! Only someone without common sense, thorough knowledge, or with a vendetta would have filed such a report. 
  A lot of aware and reasonable people will tell you that feed and care is an ongoing process taken by the staff responsible for Wayne's properties from McKinney to West Texas. We are all animal lovers. The cost were enormous and yet people like Wayne continued to take in more orphans. For some its cats. For others it's dogs. For Wayne and his staff, it's about barnyard creatures, especially horses. I only hope someone doesn't have an elephant in need of a home.
  This incident reminds me of a time when someone reported that there was a dead horse in a pasture. When the authorities came to check, the horse was no longer there. The people who had made the call didn't realize that although horses can sleep standing up, they like to lay down too. This kind of unawareness happens more often than you would think.
  Just ask the people with the SPCA statewide and they will tell you that we are still trying to recover from the effects of 2011! And be grateful that there are people who truly care about living creatures.
   Now you know the truth! I know it taste a lot better than that crap that the DMN story dished out! 


The North Texas Reporter
- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.

No comments:

Post a Comment