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June 24, 2010 10:00 PM

Dually The Horse: Not Back In The Saddle

He's the South Dakota rodeo horse that captured national attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

It's been nearly a year since we first told you about Dually, the barrel racing horse that was stolen and abused from the Stanley County Fairgrounds in Ft. Pierre over the 4th of July.

Dually's injuries were so severe, he required months of medical attention and rehab but still his owner doesn't think he'll ever be able to compete again.

If it's true what they say, time heals all wounds, then a year hasn't been enough time for Wendy Halweg or her horse, Dually. 

"He still has issues with his left front tendon sometimes.  He's lame but he's doing better," Halweg said. 

Don Jorgensen: And that's from the rope burns?
Halweg: Yeah.

Pictures show just some of the injuries Dually received the night he was stolen: deep rope burns around his legs and hooves.

The man charged with stealing and abusing Dually was recently sentenced for the crimes. For the next three years, every 4th of July, Flint Dahl will serve five days behind bars.

Halweg says it's not a long sentence, but a creative one she hopes Dahl thinks about every time he reports to jail. 

"I just hope it has bettered his life in some way.  If I had to go through this, in my thoughts, I hope he's learned something from it or done something to change his life for the better," Halweg said.

She hasn't forgiven Dahl, nor did he say anything to her before sentencing. 

"I don't feel there was much remorse for what happened," Halweg said. 

Halweg did have someone read this letter in court.

I want you to understand what this has done to us, physically and emotionally, by no choice of our own. We have had our dreams, goals and hard work taken from us. 

"No matter what, I'll never be back to where I was so that's the tough part, but what the judge did what he did and I guess I'll have to live with it and move on," Halweg said.

But moving on hasn't been easy. For Halweg, the emotional wounds are as deep as the physical scars for Dually. She's owned Dually for ten years and was like family.  As a barrel team, they were climbing up the ranks in the rodeo circuit and were looking to win a lot of money. But it was all ripped away in one night. 

"I don't know.  We worked pretty hard at it.  It took a long time to get where we are with Dually and I and we were having a great year," Halweg said. 

Halweg is not competing in the rodeo circuit this year.  She's hoping to get back in the saddle soon, but not with Dually.

Dually will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. 

"We've been exercising him, try to long trot him.  We don't ride him or put any weight on him, but just been ponying him with another horse or on the walker," Halweg said. 

Halweg also bought Dually this giant treadmill to help him with his daily exercising during the winter months.

"Our hopes are we will get to rehab that tendon enough and good enough to ride him, but as far as competitively, I don't know that is to be foreseen and see where that tendon goes," Halweg said.

But for now, Halweg will continue riding her other horses and praying she soon will be able to ride Dually again.

"I hope so, but whether that happens, we'll have to see," Halweg said.

As part of a plea bargain, Dahl agreed to pay Halweg $25,000, which she says helped pay for Dually's vet bills.

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