"Whether it was ego, whether it was money, whatever it is--they decided I was going to be the person they took down," Matt Mercier says of the charges against him.
Jackson County seized his Turn 3 Ranch in Grass Lake Township in March, and charged him and his partner Jim Henderson, Jr. with animal cruelty for, the county says, neglecting the horses.
At the time, they'd found a dead horse in the driveway.
Mercier calls it a harsh reality of raising livestock. He says he himself pulled that horse to the curb when it died of natural causes.
As for the 69 others animal control has said were abandoned for many months--
"They've never went a day without food or water. This is my life," Mercier says. "The great majority were fat."
The junk our cameras saw in the yard he says belongs to the person they lease from and was never near the horses. Yes, several were sick, he says, but he was in the process of helping them back to health.
He says there is little more he could have done.
Today, the horse count that was 69 is now 72. The pregnant horses are beginning to foal.
Animal County director Kim Luce says all are doing well.
Mercier calls it proof there was no neglect.
"These mares wouldn't be foaling healthy if they'd had no nutrition," he says.
Animal control says there could be as many as 27 more who are pregnant. Mercier says if that's true, it happened after the farm was impounded.
As an award-winning racer, he says he remains concerned--mostly--about his horses. He stands to lose them if these allegations stick.
A forfeiture hearing is scheduled for May 25. Mercier and Henderson, Jr. will be in court for a pretrial hearing Wednesday.