Emaciated horses believed to have been abandoned have been discovered in a manure-filled stable in Maryland, with curling, untrimmed hooves, which have grown over 3ft long. The horses were found in a stall surrounded by 4ft piles of manure, and struggled to move due to the length of their hooves.
While the full-sized stallion and miniature stallion were rescued, a chestnut mare's hooves were over 3 1/2 feet long, and her legs were so badly damaged by years of neglect that she had to be euthanised at the site.
The horses were discovered after a member of the public called the Humane Society of Washington County and expressed concern over the welfare of pet pigeons. It is standard practice in the US during a welfare inspection to check all animals on the property, which is how the neglected horses were found.
It is suspected the horses were locked up for at least 15 years without proper medical care, said the horse-rescue organisation Days End Farm Horse Rescue. The group has cared for more than 3,000 horses in 26 years.
The non-profit group said of the 3,000 horses they had rescued in 26 years. This incident was the worst cases of hoof neglect that the organisation had encountered.
"The horses couldn't move without risk of getting tangled in their own hooves," officials said.
Days End Farm Horse Rescue charity, which is caring for the surviving horses, said it suspected the horses were locked up for at least 15 years without proper medical care. The group has cared for more than 3,000 horses in 26 years and added it was the worst case of hoof neglect they had seen. Both surviving horses are in critical condition and will require months of rehabilitative care.