WASHINGTON — More than six months after they were rescued, two extremely neglected Maryland horses are doing much better.
Quest and Rio were found in August of last year with other horses on a farm in Washington County, Maryland and were taken in for rehabilitation by Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Howard County.
It’s estimated the horses had been kept locked in enclosures for 11 or 12 years.
They were malnourished and had hooves that were so long, they had curled beneath or beside their legs like the horns of bighorn sheep.
Quest was the worst of the two.
“I think the longest foot that he carried was 28 inches long,” says DeEtte Hillman, the rescue group’s Equine Programs Director.
“In total, once the horse’s hooves were cut off at the time of seizure, they weighed in at 20 pounds total. So imagine 20 extra pounds of weight being carried day in and day out on your legs, on your arms.”
Out in the paddock, Quest couldn’t do much.
“He’d exhaust himself within 5 to 10 minutes of just moving around.”
Hillman says he’s made an amazing turnaround.
“His feet today show no signs of 11 years worth of neglect. He is physically sound, intact, and he has gotten our veterinarian’s approval to continue on into training. It’s miraculous. None of us expected that.”
A professional horse trainer will start working with Quest in hopes that he’ll one day carry a rider.
This is a really big deal, considering Quest has never had anything laid on top of his body before.
“Recently he had an upset stomach which is what we call colic, and he was really cold because he couldn’t eat hay. And so we had to introduce him to what a blanket was, and that was a very scary monster.”
She says Quest was terrified of the blanket, ran around his stall and “shook like a baby”.
“Come a year’s anniversary of his arrival, he very well could be a riding horse, and who could of thought,” says Hillman.
Rio, a miniature horse, is also recovering well.
“You see no more bones, you see no more protruding hips or ribs or spine. His coat has grown nice and thick and fuzzy so he looks fluffy. And you can see he’s actually leaving his stall willingly and eagerly to move and to walk around. It used to be painful and unstable for him to do that, and he wasn’t confident.”
Rio still has dental problems stemming from malnutrition.
“He’s got specialized meals, he can’t chew hay yet, and a little at a time we perform some dentistry.”
The horse has beautiful mane, and Hillman says “he looks like a little mini Fabio.”
An animal neglect case was brought against the owners of the neglected horses — a husband and wife.
They eventually agreed to plead guilty to charges of failing to provide proper care for the horses.
Each was sentenced to 3 years probation, and authorities have the right to visit their property unannounced at any time.
The couple was also banned from having any more livestock for the rest of their lives.
“It was a win for these horses because they received intervention. They received care and rehabilitation, and their quality of life has improved greatly. And their owners did agree that they failed to provide the needs that these horses had,” says Hillman.
The care and rehabilitation of just these two horses cost tens of thousands of dollars, and Days End Farm Horse Rescue is a nonprofit that always welcomes donations of any size.
The group is holding an auction fundraiser April 2 at the Bolger Center in Potomac.
“It’s going to be quite a great time. Wine pairings with a three course dinner, silent and live auction, and the horses will be there to escort you through cocktail hour,” says Development Director Caroline Robertson.
“We would love to get $100,000 in profits from that auction, and they go straight back to the horses.”
Get more information about the auction on its website.
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