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Man tries to elude arrest on horse
Liddon Todd Cowden

A Winton man put the term “horse power” to literal use Monday when he tried to flee law enforcement on his trusty stead.

Merced County Sheriff deputies were attempting to arrest Liddon Todd Cowden, 42, when he fled on his horse, sheriff spokesman Deputy Delray Shelton said.

Deputies were dispatched to a report of a fight in the 1700 block of W. Belcher Road around 3 p.m. Monday. According to the report, Cowden hit his 79-year-old landlord with his reins.

Cowden was spotted riding his horse near Belcher and Santa Fe Avenue. Cowden was told to stop by the deputies, but reportedly ignored them. He crossed over Santa Fe and the railroad tracks, all the while disregarding the lights and sirens behind him, Shelton said.

Cowden rode the horse hard into a field and then stood there waiting for law enforcement, Shelton said.

Deputies were making their approach toward Cowden when he gave a tug on the reins and he and the horse took off again.

Deputies were on Cowden’s trail until Cowden made a sudden and sharp right turn and made his way up a canal bank.

The quick maneuver caused a deputy to slide his patrol sports utility vehicle into a drainage ditch. No injuries were reported and the vehicle was pulled out with minimal damage.

In the meantime, Cowden had ridden into the sunset, so to speak. But his happy ever after was short-lived as deputies showed up at his doorstep the following morning.

After being taken into custody, Cowden told the deputies he ran because a previous arrest had resulted in his horse being impounded for a week.

Cowden is being held at the Merced County Jail on charges of cruelty to animals, resisting arrest, and condition to an animal likely to cause great bodily harm or death. He is being held on a $17,000 bail.

The animal-related charges were added because Cowden rode the horse too strenuously during the excursion.