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Abused Horses Find Their Field of Dreams (Photos)

Written by Alisa Mullins | July 10, 2014

Henry was once a racehorse, but when he stopped winning, he became one of the thousands of thoroughbreds who are discarded every year. Once a sleek, powerful competitor, he was a bag of bones, unsteady on his feet, and barely able to hold his head up when a PETA fieldworker spotted him and another horse, Caroline, while working in rural North Carolina on another case. Henry’s hair was falling out in clumps, partly because of stress, malnutrition, and a skin condition called “rain rot” that is common in neglected horses. He also had bloody wounds on his ears that appeared to have been caused by biting flies. His ribs and hip bones stood out in stark relief against his skin, and he had so little flesh on his head that hollows had formed above his eyes. "Before" Picture of Henry Caroline was also severely underweight, and both horses had painfully overgrown teeth and hooves (regular dental and foot care is essential for horses). The horses’ only source of water was a battered, discarded bathtub that contained just a few inches of filthy water and algae. Filthy Tub Horses Drank From The fieldworker learned from the next-door neighbor that the horses’ owner had moved away months ago and left the neighbor’s brother in charge of their care. There was no feed on the property, just an old, decomposing bale of hay, which the fieldworker immediately gave the horses, who were so hungry that they were trying to nibble on her clothes. She came back later with some grain, which “they ate like it was their job,” she says. We consulted an equine veterinarian, who recommended that the horses be removed because of “chronic neglect.” The horses’ absentee owner didn’t want them (and had reportedly even threatened to shoot them at one point). The neighbors agreed to surrender Henry but wanted to keep the younger horse. However, after we loaded Henry into a trailer to take him to his foster home, Caroline—as the vet had predicted she would—became frantic when she lost sight of Henry. Seeing how distraught she was, the neighbors agreed to let these old friends stay together. Once they got to their foster home, the horses were assessed by a veterinarian and received long overdue maintenance of their overgrown teeth and hooves. After two months of proper care, the horses were nearly unrecognizable: Rescued Horses Henry and Caroline in Their New Home Last month, Caroline and Henry traveled to their permanent home in Middleburg, Virginia, where they will spend the rest of their days roaming lush pastures together. Itchy, another PETA rescue, also lives at the farm and can vouch for the fact that Caroline and Henry have literally and figuratively landed in clover.

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  • horselover101 says:

    I am so happy to see these animals in good loving care, and of course, the care that they deserve. 🙂

  • Seeing two happy, ex-racehorses is encouraging. When we lived in South Africa a security company ‘rescued’ these horses to patrol along railway tracks late at night, looking for thieves stealing copper off the lines, often cutting their feet while trotting in pitch darkness. Even though the guards on horseback tried their best, they were not able to adequately look after these horses who had no proper saddles or winter jackets (it freezes on the highveld) and not ever enough to eat, with sores on their backs and feet seldom getting treated. It’s a sad thing, but when people’s greed is more than their compassion, normally animals suffer somewhere along the line.
    One of the characters in my children’s adventure story is about a racehorse sheltered and adopted by kind humans. Abused and neglected animals need help, especially a permanent home.

  • VampyressJessika says:

    That is so awful what they did to the horses. Horses are such beautiful creatures. Whoever did this to the horses needs to be punished. They now look so happy and healthy. Whoever adopted the horses has such a caring heart to take them in. I hope stuff like this never happens but sadly it does and it needs to stop. God bless the people who are now taking care of these horses. There needs to be more people out there that do that type of thing for animals.

  • stephanie says:

    Wonderful job! So nice to see these horses doing great now… they’ve been suffering so much, glad they’re good now! Thank you!!!!!

  • Gretchen says:

    Be very careful about what you give to horses that are malnourished… it alarms me that it states in the article that she gave the horses rotten (and likely moldy) hay, even if it is the only thing around, moldy hay is a prime culprit for colic, which can be deadly for a horse. Grain will also cause colic in sufficient amounts, and especially if the horse hasn’t had proper grass hay or pasture fodder. A horse just starting back onto feed after malnourishment needs to start with good quality timothy or orchard grass hay (NOT alfalfa at first!). Although the case worker was well-intentioned with the rotton hay and grain, ALWAYS consult with an equine vet before doing something like that, and NEVER feed a horse old or moldy hay.

  • sosbaiji says:

    Thank you. Love happy endings!

  • Karolyn says:

    Those poor creatures, I’m so glad they got the help they needed and deserved. The before and after pictures are shocking. Thank you for sharing this story! The horse races have started here in San Diego, and I’ll definitely not be participating in any way.