Horse owner disputes biting details

CAMANO ISLAND – The owner of a horse that bit off most of a 4-year-old boy’s ear says the incident should not have happened.

“It could have and should have been avoided,” Jim Johnson, 43, said, adding he felt horrible about what happened.

However, Johnson disputes some of the details Nathan Lynn’s family has presented, saying the family should bear some responsibility.

Contrary to the family’s assertions, Johnson said his horse, an almost 2-year-old colt named Toby, did not bust through a fence to get at the boy. Johnson, who did not witness the biting, said the boy must have been leaning through the three-rail fence or climbed inside the paddock, because his fence was not broken.

Nathan’s mother, Farrah Lynn, still insists the horse pushed its head through a board to get to Nathan, who had been tossing hay through the rails into a bathtub trough in Toby’s paddock.

A look at official statements filed two days after the May 15 incident with Diana Blakely, an Island County animal control officer, shows the main point of contention is whether Nathan or the horse reached through the fence.

The only person to witness the biting, Kristopher Jones, 17, wrote that he and Nathan, his cousin, were tossing hay over the fence and through the rails.

“Nathan was crouched down by the diagonal board on the fence and was throwing it through,” Jones wrote. “He then turned his head to the left to grab some more hay, and the horse reached through the board and pulled him into the tub face down. I then pulled him out by his feet and saw that some of his ear was gone.”

Jones said he yelled to Nathan’s father, Chris Lynn, 32, who was out of sight in a shop nearby. Medics were called, and Nathan was airlifted to Seattle, where surgeons were unable to reattach his ear.

Johnson’s official statement questioned Jones’ version. He said he arrived from his job at a Mount Vernon animal feed store soon after the incident. “Toby was in paddock, no boards or fencing down at all,” he wrote.

At the scene, Johnson continued, he asked Farrah Lynn’s stepfather, Mace Gulliford, what happened.

“Mace said the boy was leaning in over (the) feed tub to feed Toby, and Toby grabbed the boy by the ear and dragged him to the pasture by the ear,” Johnson wrote.

County officials did not have a statement from Gulliford.

Johnson also wrote that a neighbor told him the 17-year-old said Nathan actually had walked into the paddock at one point.

Both Johnson and Farrah Lynn agree that they had talked at least a week before the incident about the horse’s unpredictable behavior. Toby was in the enclosure instead of out to pasture because he had an appointment to be gelded by a veterinarian in a few days. Ungelded horses are typically wilder because of testosterone, Johnson said.

Blakely said state law requires 2-year-old stallions to have a more reinforced enclosure than Toby had, but she did not think any law had been broken, because Toby had not quite reached his second birthday. She was awaiting the horse’s paperwork to verify his age.

Johnson said he sold Toby at a livestock auction, adding, “I didn’t feel right having him there.” The paddock now has a wire-mesh fence to prevent a repeat, even though the horse there now is a mellow filly.

“I felt bad. It’s horrible for the kid,” Johnson said. “I probably should have put the fence up a little sooner, but I thought that they’d watch out for their kids and not go in there.”

Reporter Scott Morris: 425-339-3292 or smorris@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Lynnwood
Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Everett police officers survey the scene of a shooting along East Casino Road on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington’s 5th police academy could be in Snohomish County

A new academy in Northwest Washington would help clear a lengthy wait list for new police hires to get training.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.