The six horses rescued from Harford County and relocated to a farm in Howard County last week are showing signs of recovery, a farm manager from Days End Farm Horse Rescue Inc., in Woodbine, said Thursday.
The horses were still in the early stages of rehabilitation but had been introduced to feed and hay, Days End farm manager Brittney Carow said Thursday.
The farm is trying to treat "superficial things" like dermatitis, she said, and their hoofs will be trimmed next week.
"So far, so good," Carow said, noting she expects them to improve once they gain weight. "They are not out of the woods, by any means, especially the ones that were in worse condition, but so far, they are showing signs of doing well."
The four mares and two stallions were described as "emaciated" when they were removed from a farm along Baldwin Mill Road in the Forest Hill area, according to the Harford County government.
On Wednesday, county spokesman Bob Thomas said details about the ownership of the horses is not being made public while the matter remains under investigation. County animal control officials are determining if charges will be filed against the owner of the animals, Thomas said.
The county's animal control agency got a call from Baltimore County Animal Control on Feb. 6 in reference to several horses in a field that were thin, although they had hay with them, Thomas said. Baltimore County officials took the complaint because they thought the horse was in their area.
Another call from a resident the next day referred to 14 horses that were very thin.
The horses were inspected that day and photographed, and county officials confirmed there was hay on the property, although it was "not a very good quality." There was not, however, any grain on the farm, officials said.
A representative from the farm told officials he was trying to give the horses away. There were 12 thin or emaciated horses and five that were normal or getting thin, according to the county.
On Feb. 12, the county received a call to check the horses, and one was found dead in the field.
Another horse the county animal control staff had not previously seen was also found in the field in very poor condition, emaciated and with a neurological problem. That horse was very old and had trouble walking.
Animal control euthanized the horse, and the horse owner requested officials euthanize another old broodmare that was emaciated.
Days End removed six emaciated horses last Friday. An additional horse left the farm the next day.
"One horse was moved out Saturday," Thomas explained via e-mail. "It did not belong to the owner of the farm. It was a horse that was being boarded there. The horse was in good shape and the horse was moved to a new home."
"That arrangement had been made prior to the complaints that brought animal control to investigate the circumstances at the farm," he said.
According to the Days End Farm release when the animals were rescued, three of the six horses rescued from Harford were rated as a 1 or 1.5 out of 9 on the Body Condition Scale, or "as thin as a horse can be and still be alive;" two were rated 2.5 and one was rated 3. According to the release, veterinarians consider a body score of 4 to 7 as acceptable.
The six horses range in age from 4 to 12 years. According to the release, one has a swollen knee and several suffer from dermatitis.
Days End Farm Horse Rescue was founded in 1989 and is a volunteer-based, all breed rescue relying solely on donations to carry out its mission.
Caroline Robertson, development director for Days End Farm, said Tuesday night that the six horses are "thoroughbred type" and one was tattooed, suggesting it might have been a race horse, although they did not have any confirmation of that. Robertson said the care for each horse will run between $1,900 and $2,400 a month.