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Woman Warns City Hall About Wayne Kirk, the Trinity Horse Park Operator

Wayne Kirk

On Friday, I put up a post about Wayne Kirk, the guy who got the contract to run the city’s new Texas Horse Park, in the Trinity River Corridor (update: the park will be co-run with Equest). Mostly I offered a bunch of details about the guy (accusations about GHB, funny Twitter presence, etc., etc.) that made me scratch my head. Today we venture into more serious territory with some troubling allegations about how the guy does business.

I learned about a letter sent by a woman named Harley Cozewith to every member of the Dallas City Council. Cozewith is a former director of visitor services for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and a current part-time employee of the museum. And she’s a horse person. Last week, Cozewith wrote the following to the councilmembers:

As a Dallas resident, competitive equestrian, and current Equest volunteer, I am truly and deeply concerned about Wayne Kirk and River Ranch managing the new horse park. Kirk’s reputation in the DFW equestrian community is frightening. In fact, he is persona non grata at many well regarded equestrian centers in the DFW area. One equestrian contact, a trainer, competitor, and farm owner, worked for Wayne Kirk at one time and reported when I asked her about him:

– Starving dogs in the back that he kept in cages, if they died, fine

– Horses that “pulled their weight” as trail horses did fine. But any that didn’t were sent to “the ranch” in West Texas and who knows… if they ever came back they were extremely thin

– He is ALL about the money. Paid people nothing and I paid for a horse and a dog vet care out of my own pocket. If they got sick or hurt, they got taken to “the ranch” or turned out in the back to starve.

– Horses that pulled their weight for camp and trail rides got fed and got their feet done. But as soon as they dropped weight, went lame, or whatever … they moved on down the road. And he’s really weird about the horses … Like, hoarderish. I rode this really nice Thoroughbred gelding there and took care of him, made sure he got fed, got his teeth floated. I knew when I left it would go down hill fast. I begged to buy him. He was 25 years old! No go. I heard later that he went “to the ranch” and died.

– He also used to keep 5-6 horeses in stalls all the time. They only got out for breeding. They were NUTS. He bred all the mares every year.

– Horses are totally disposable to him.

A consummate horse person and professional barn manager in the Wilmer area that I have known for years had this to say: “I knew as soon it was announced that he was the one that was going to run it that they were doomed.”

It is also of great concern that the City of Dallas would consider entering into a 20+ year contract. What kind of responsible business does that? At maximum, a contract of this nature should be 3-5 years. It could certainly contain an automatic renewal but not be without an ironclad cancellation clause. Particularly with grave concerns about the manager’s integrity, why would the City enter in to a contract of such length?

Equestrian pursuits are by their very nature potentially risky for staff and riders as well as notoriously difficult to manage with financial success. The last thing the City needs on the outset of such a venture is a poor choice of management and a poor contract, both of which could leave the City exposed to damaging PR.

I am so excited about having the Horse Park in our back yard and want it to succeed. I plan to be involved as an Equest volunteer. I already volunteer at their Wylie facility. I’m hoping you can assist in making sure this project is not a disaster and that no people or horses are harmed or worse.

Many thanks for all the good work you do.

I talked with Cozewith, and I spoke with the person she quoted in her letter. That person has worked in the horse business in Dallas for 20 years and worked for Kirk about a decade ago, at a place called the Frisco Horse Park. The bullet points above are the person’s recollection from that time. The person asked that I preserve the person’s anonymity because the horse community is a small and sometimes “illogical” one (the person’s word), and even though the person suspected that most would agree with the assessment of Kirk, the person’s business could be adversely affected by backlash. I emailed and left a message this morning for Kirk at his Storybook Ranch and have not yet heard back. I’ll update this post if I do.

  • eastside

    I know Harley Cozewith and she is to be believed when it comes to her opinion of horses and their proper treatment. She has shown horses for years and is very familiar with the horse show circuit and those that are involved in the horse business. She has spoken out against this person because she cares about the treatment of horses and she knows what the truth is. The City needs to wake up and listen to what is being said.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Harley Cozewith is legit…. this is a problem.

  • Neal K

    “update: the park will be co-run with Equest”

    Did Equest know who it was getting into bed with in this partnership? All the concerns about this guy sound legitimate, and without a doubt he is a convicted horse abuser. But unless I’m missing something, Equest is NOT raising holy hell. So if not, why not?

    (Yes, I know Harley Cozewith is an Equest volunteer. But she doesn’t speak for the organization nor does she pretend to do so).

  • Greenvillite

    I also know Harley and trust her thoughts on horses. I’ve done a little investigating of my own on this guy too. HORRIBLE that the City would entrust animals to him or even create the appearance that he has control in this park. If this is the best we can do, we shouldn’t do it.

  • Jack Jett

    I am confused about who is writing this line and/or who does this thought belong to.

    “Starving dogs in the back that he kept in cages, if they died, fine”

    Who is saying it is okay to starve dogs in a cage? I THINK it is being said tongue in cheek. I hope. However I just read a glowing review by Nancy Nichols of this Vet in Ft Worth who used supposed euthanized canines for blood transfusions. So I am hoping that this is simply extreme snark that went over my head.

    Either way, I appreciate this being brought out in public and while I am not familiar with equestrian pursuits, I am interested in doing what I can to keep animal abusers and animals separate. Please keep us updated.

  • MarkC

    Whoa…Everyone. I have kept horses with Wayne for some 25 years and have never witnessed anything but a man who cares dearly for all animals Dr. Anderson, a well respected veterinarian in Frisco, was the vet that was called to the horse park by any employee if an animal was poor or sickly. Call and ask him his opinion of Wayne. I have donated a few horses to the charity over the years and when these horses got too old to be ridden regularly they were sent to Wayne’s 20,000 + West Texas ranch where they are allowed to graze out the remainder of their lives. Wayne has never been convicted of animal cruelty and to say so is an out and out lie. Don’t believe everything you read about anyone, hell don’t believe me, but if you truly check the record you will then know the truth. Furthermore, Wayne has taken in 100+ Rescue horses and donkeys over the years at his expense. Some of these animals were abused so badly and in such horrible condition that some took 6-8 months to rehabilitate and a few died. Wayne is a tender hearted soul and does not deserve the criticism he has recently experienced. Please have as much compassion for a human as you seem to have for some made-up animal.

  • Marc Lee

    I doesn’t matter who runs the horse park. This guy may be a bad choice, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that horses at a public park will be injured (whether by accident or not) receive some kind of abuse (mild or not) from the public or some low-wage employee, and eventually be retired (out of sight and out of mind) at a slaughterhouse or “ranch” like the one mentioned in the story. It’s not much of a life for the horses, even under the best circumstances.

  • Borborygmus

    WHOA there, Storybook Ranch?

  • iknowhimwell

    I have worked with Wayne Kirk… I am NOT proud to say, and I can tell you now that in my opinion, he is an evil and despicable being… even his own brother will tell you so. From my experience with him, and in my opinion, he is a habitual liar, a and thief. Believe me I know, he stole from me. He will get what is coming to him someday…. either from someone that has been a victim of his wixked and evil ways, or the Lord himself will cast his evil soul to hell…. and I will be there to watch him burn.

  • Joe Junior

    Duplicate my comment made another post regards to Kirk

    Perhaps further investigation reporting would stop Wayne Kirk involvement ….he is nothing more than sociopath.

    Wayne Kirk has been a named defendant 27 times in lawsuits for the following counties: Dallas, Denton, Collin ….DOES NOT INCLUDEeeee all companies he has been involved which were sued plus Texas Game Warden and legal actions in King County. Check out these links for DFW county lawsuits of Wayne Kirk.

    Recommend interview the plaintiff’s in these court actions determine they will all state the same “scum”
    If Dallas continues with Kirk’s involvement I would guarantee end up in legal disaster and a “stained reputation” of the DFW area AND most likely hour long segment on TV series called American Greed after Kirk steals the money.

    Escapes me how the City of Dallas could approve such scum be involved without investigation of the his background. If I recall he has been arrested many times.

    Links for named lawsuits DOES NOT INCLUDE companies he was involved with :




  • Harley Cozewith