Video of Trainer Dale Hiteman Beating His 2-Year-Old Horse (Who Already Had an Injured Neck)

Back in July, I reported this ruling from Indiana:

“While in the barn area of Hoosier Park on the morning of June 1, licensee Dale Hiteman (below) was observed on video striking a prone horse [Princess Laa] with a line multiple times about the head and body. After reviewing the video and considering Mr. Hiteman’s actions and testimony, the judges have determined the following penalties: $1,500 fine; 30-day suspension; probation for remainder of 2023 meet.”

I also promised a FOIA request for the video and hearing in question and, to my surprise, it was honored. Be forewarned, it is very difficult to watch. That said, we have to watch. While viewing, bear in mind that Princess is but two years old – a virtual baby – and at the time was still just in training. (She has since been raced and in fact was raced just last night at Hoosier, finishing last, “distanced” – and yes, this was under Hiteman.)

While not much happens after the 2:00 mark, toward the end (around 3:30) you can see the subdued Princess being led out. Also note the stress caused to the neighboring horse:

At the hearing, which you can listen to below, Hiteman began by producing dates and times when “she’s done this before,” including an incident when she was being “broken” by the (horrible) Amish last November. That time, Hiteman said, “She flipped over backwards…hurt herself, and now holds her head crooked because of it.” He added: “Because she is a handful…I always tie her up [before putting the paraphernalia on].”

“On this day [Jun 1]…starting to put the line on there, boom she does it. She got herself reared backward and got herself stuck in the corner. And she already has a previous injury on her neck. … I grabbed the line there to scare her to get out, which she did, and whacked her a few times on top of the head…. And that’s what I did.”

Then this: “Ten days later, she did it again. … All the sudden, she threw herself, for no reason, which usually it’s always for no reason.” (As there is no video for this one, we don’t know how Hiteman reacted, but you can make your own guesses.)

He also relayed an incident in Georgia in Feb when it “took three hours to tranquilize her” for a dental procedure. “She wouldn’t let us get close to her with a needle…and finally we had to tie her up real tight to the post and pushed her up against the wall.”

The same apparently goes with the tongue tie: “Sometimes…she would just do it [rebel, that is], just like in the video. … About once a week she’ll have a little tantrum. Sometimes she gets away and throws herself and sometimes she can’t get away….”

Hiteman partially justified the beating with Princess’ preexisting neck injury – yes neck injury – saying he didn’t want to grab the equipment and make the injury worse. He also claimed he asked the investigator to have a vet look at Princess immediately after, supposedly to prove she was fine. The investigator declined (if true, he’s horrible too). But that – whether there was a physical injury – simply doesn’t matter.

The officials were generally quite amiable with Hiteman, if not downright understanding. One wrapped it up thus: “So what you did was to try to avoid hurting her neck, is that right?” “Yeah,” Hiteman reminded, “because she already had an injury and holds her head crooked because of it.” “Okay, that’s all I have,” said the official. Another, in closing the hearing: “Dale, I’ll get back to you guys if there’s any penalty or anything.”

To recap: This man, Dale Hiteman, mercilessly beat a tied-up 2-year-old horse because she was “acting up.” A 2-year-old horse, again, who suffers from a preexisting neck injury that causes her to “hold her head crooked.” A 2-year-old horse who has said repeatedly, in the only way she can, she doesn’t want to be enslaved as a racehorse.

Obviously, the Commission had to act (to remind: $1,500 fine, 30-day suspension), for there was a video. But it’s clear to me that they don’t really care. (Not that we needed more evidence: The Indiana Commission continuously trivializes whipping that is so harsh it causes welts.) So, we must try appealing to a different, better authority. Within the all-too-thin Indiana cruelty statutes, is this under the section, “Abusing a Vertebrate Animal” (which explicitly includes horses): “A person who knowingly or intentionally abuses a vertebrate animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor.”

Hoosier Park lies in Madison County. Please, for Princess, share this video and post with the prosecutors there and ask them, politely and respectfully, to act:

Madison County DA: 765-641-9585
Prosecutor Rodney Cummings:
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Hanna:

audio of the hearing

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  1. He’s an asshole that should be tied up and be beaten the crap out of. The racing commissioners are just as guilty for allowing this abuse to happen in the first place and for facilitating this abuse. This filly should not be passed to race.
    The racing secretary and the veterinarians and the racing commissioners and the driver all need to be given the same treatment they give the horse.
    The reason they don’t give strict punishments is because this is an inherently cruel industry and the racing commissioners are as incorrigible as the driver who abuses this filly as well as all the other horses we don’t have videos of him abusing.
    The video does NOT show up well enough to really see the full impact of the abuse but reading the stuff that this piece of shit says….

  2. The Commissioners and the racing secretary and the veterinarians and that piece of shit driver all need to be handcuffed and taken into an elevator and have the f****** crap beat out of them by the Sheriff’s Deputies!

    • Indiana state law prohibits cruelty, abandonment, and neglect of animals. Acts of torture and physical abuse of an animal are a crime in Indiana. IC 35-46-3-12. Neglect or abandonment of an animal is a crime in Indiana. IC 35-46-3-7. A court may permanently confiscate animals that are abused or neglected. IC 35-46-3-6.

      The Board of Animal Health has limited jurisdiction in animal abuse and neglect matters and will only get involved after written request from law enforcement officials or after a court order has been

      For more information on procedures in abuse and neglect matters see IC 35-46-3-6.

      Contact the DA.

  3. There’s something seriously wrong with that horse. I believe she’s had a neck injury for years. She’s in pain. How could a vet allow her to race.

  4. Whether you’re a horseman, a racing fan, a bettor, an animal activist, or just a reasonable, rational human being – this is pretty f***ing horrible- on all counts. I don’t like cruelty, violence, bullying torture or physical abuse – in any form -and I further despise when people get away with it.

    I do know for sure though, that I made the 100% correct decision to walk away from betting on horse racing over a year ago, and you can be sure that I will not be returning to it anytime soon. I hope that more people who still bet the races will make the same choice that I have.

  5. This driver makes it sound like the TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY is the bad guy, the bad actor, by talking about the filly as if she is going to hurt someone, that she does this…
    The scum puts himself in the position of being the hero by saying it might as well be him to keep her from hurting someone else, to keep someone else from getting hurt while he is whacking the horse on the head and all of the other abuses that this scum driver is inflicting on this filly..
    That stupid piece of shit is the one who is hurting her and she’s reacting and resisting to his abuse.
    This scumbucket has a bad attitude, an absolute lack of compassion and an absolute lack of kindness towards this young filly that desperately needs to be rescued from this abuse and neglect. This scum driver is painting himself as a hero as if he is protecting other people from getting hurt by this filly. He is a deceitful abuser of a young filly that desperately needs to be rescued from her abusers.

  6. Dale Hiteman

    Seth Bender
    2:59 PM (0 minutes ago)
    to rcummings, ahanna

    Dear Prosecutor Rodney Cummings and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Cummings:

    As I’m sure you are aware, Dale Hiteman was assessed just a $1500 fine and 30 days probation as a result of repeatedly beating a defenseless horse on June 1, 2023. . In the video below, you can see that these punches caused significant pain, as evidenced both by the stunned reaction of the horse as well as by the anxiety that the adjoining horse was causing.

    I ask that you review this video further and that you revisit this lax punishment. It is astounding that Mr. Hiteman is already being allowed back and is racing Princess Laa once again.

    Though you can only prosecute based on evidence you see, there is no telling what this man is doing when there is no video present.

    Thank you,

    Seth Bender

  7. Just received an email from the prosecutor that this case was referred for criminal investigation. How long ago, I’m unsure. Whether the investigation will lead to anything is anybody’s guess. Hiteman deserves a lifetime ban across all jurisdictions.

    • Thank you, Seth. Evidently, the State of Indiana will only consider this abuse a misdemeanor. I’m hoping the court gives the maximum penalty allowed by law in the State of Indiana to this abusive creep.

    • Can she be rescued and taken from this filthy scum? That’s abuse. He won’t be satisfied until she is dead. He obviously has hatred for her. She needs care and compassion asap.

      • It’s possible that there will be a court order to seize this two-year-old filly from the possession of this filthy scumbucket and be given the proper care and kindness that she deserves.
        If there is any justice, the court will order the offending abuser(s) be convicted and penalized.

    • Please find her a new home. The sooner the better. Apparently Princess is still with this wretched man in this wretched business. I fear what he may do to her (as if he hasn’t done enough) if any justice comes of this abuse. Praying she is saved and doesn’t just disappear. Hopefully, but doubtful, someone in the justice system has a conscious and moves quickly on Princess’ behalf. She needs a loud voice!

  8. Tragic does not begin to describe the existence for this horse. She was never even given a chance. . .and to be raced with a permanent NECK injury speaks to the priorities of the industry.

  9. And this wasn’t enough to convict this man and do jail time? It’s apparent that horse was bound and given an electrical shock. Hiteman (Hit-man) did not beat that horse for the horse’s sake. Just like men that beat their wives. It’s not for the victim’s sake. It is the evil angst the man harbors within, and abuses what cannot fight back. This horse was SCARED. It knew what was coming. Both hind legs bound, horse is keeping his body turned away and cornered, that is all the horse can do to avoid the cruel treatment the horse knows to expect. This is beyond torment. This channel can do more, by sending this video to larger established animal defender groups to get them to pursue justice and RELEASE of that horse to a sanctuary. You made your point about “horseracing wrongs”. Now STOP this abuse by getting that horse out of there. And put it in your text above that you have a petition for viewers to sign! ACT LIKE YOU MEAN BUSINESS!!
    UPDATE: You need to report THE NAME OF THE HORSE’S OWNER, so to shame the owner for allowing this abuse and for retaining the trainer. Just going after the trainer will be fruitless. Attack the owner’s PRIDE with charges of irresponsibility to horse and racetrack professional standards. This is their Achillies heel. Enough BAD PRESS ABOUT THE OWNER and the owner will want to save face. The horse is permanently injured and a LOSER in the races. The owner has incentive to release the horse to a sanctuary – if not also firing the trainer! – so to appear responsibly a good owner. YOU ARE NOT PLAYING YOUR HAND SMART. You are spitefully making a point about horse racing without going the distance to GET THAT HORSE OUT OF THERE. YOU CAN PREVENT THIS ONE DEATH MORE!!

    • Obviously you are not familiar with this site and our organization. In any event, if you had bothered to read the entire post, you’d have seen that we do indeed have an action and have already received a response from the prosecutor’s office.

    • Ava, I understand the frustration. To see a defenseless animal mistreated in such a manner is horrible. And we live in a screwed up world. But truth be told, I see no fault in what Mr. Battuello is doing here. Posting videos like this, horrible though they are, is serving to bring the horrors of horse racing (and in this case, training) to a wider audience. And yes, there was a call to action. And yes, this case has been referred for further review as a result of the collective action of those on this site.

    • Ava Aubrey, part of what needs to happen is for the majority of the people to be educated in what horrible things are done to horses on a daily basis especially in the racing industry. This sharing of information is PART OF what needs to happen to help change the “will of the people” as far as changing the laws regarding this abusive industry are concerned.
      Horses exploited for racing don’t live as well as the racing industry wants the public to believe. The racing industry portrays the horses as being lucky.

      Many times in this industry when they are forced to account for the death of a racehorse, “THE PUBLIC RELATIONS PLAYBOOK OF HORSERACING FALSEHOODS AND STRAIGHT UP LIES” will 1) mislead, 2) deny, and 3) deflect.

      A person representing this abusive exploitation of horses will tell the public via the news media something to the effect of “the (deceased) horse was so lucky to have been treated so well when they were alive”. This is the blatant, in-your-face, kiss-my-ass type of lies to justify the legal existence of horseracing.
      We have to deal with the legal process and, oftentimes, the legal process takes more time than many people would like.
      It would be great if you made the choice to be a little more helpful by doing your part, instead of sitting back and pointing your finger at someone else not getting the results so quickly.

      This “regulated” horseracing industry has been, and continues to be, supported by BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES in the United States. The racing Commissioners are the foxes that have been legally assigned the “responsibility” of guarding the henhouse. The henhouse in this industry is the widespread existence of this abusive exploitation of horses for money, money, money, and more money.

      Join the team against this industry of criminal activity, won’t you, Ava Aubrey?

  10. this is SOOOO UNBEIVABLY SICKENING, I am lost for words & sick to my physical being for EVERY animal that is under this MONSTERS care, custody & control & the only people WORSE than this GARBAGE ARE THE STEWARDS & INVESTIGATORS = M O N S T E R S ALL OF THEM.

  11. Wow, I met Dale Hiteman in 1979 at Windsor Raceway, when he was 23 years old and just starting out, His dad, Omar Hiteman was a well-respected horseman from the 1950’s on. There are memorial races named after his dad. Dale raced in Chicago most of his career and has been recognized as successful. This being said, most readers do not understand the sport of harness racing or the culpability of many others leading up to these events.

    There are many theories on how to break a young horse. One of the ways was whipping a horse. Even the Amish used it. In the last 20 -30 years times have changed and we began to recognize physical punishment in a different way. Same with a horse. More sophisticated ways to break a horse became widely known and recognized. At the same time purse monies needed to fund horse care have stagnated making the harness horse business almost unviable. Rich owners fund the big boys but not the small marginal trainers like Hiteman. The pressure is immense. Hiteman is old school in the Twighlight of his career. I’ll guarantee you that Hiteman for the most part treats horses well. He couldn’t last 44 years if he didn’t.

    What should Hiteman have done? Obviously, he had a bad actor. And apparently injured earlier. Maybe put the horse out to pasture and wait. Aw, there’s the rub. There are Stake races for young horses, with purses many times larger than aged horses. It might be that Hiteman, or his partners bought the horse specifically to race in 2- and 3-year-old Stake races. Hiteman did not seem to realize what he had done. He readily told the investigators what had done previously. There is some presumption not only on Hiteman’s part but on the INVESTIGATOR’S part that what had transpired was somewhat understandable. Videos are so destructive because they do not tell the whole story.

    The pressure is on to call Hiteman a scumbag. The public sees one thing and people in the business see another. The USTA banned him for life today. For all I know, he will be homeless tomorrow. 44 years for naught. He may have a history that I do not know about, but it nowhere is ever mentioned.
    Horseman love their horses. And people in the business that long must love their horses..

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