Their ribs are visible. Their hooves haven’t been trimmed in a year. They have trouble eating because of pain from neglected teeth. They are infested with parasites and lice.
The 150 Polish Arabian horses from Canterbury Farms in Queen Anne’s County are part of the largest seizure of neglected horses by the Humane Society in Maryland, according to Gentle Giants Horse Rescue.
Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mount Airy was called into action in late April by the Humane Society, helping to transport the animals and taking custody of 10, two of which are in critical condition, according to a news release.
The group will foster the horses until they are healthy again.
Six horses from the breeding farm had to be euthanized on site due to their condition, according to the group.
The Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine also received 13 horses in critical condition.
“This is an absolutely overwhelming situation that has surpassed the ability of the organizations involved," said Christine Hajek, president and founder of Gentle Giants. "There's an overwhelming amount of need."
The horses are severely emaciated and many have never had physical exams, according to Hajek.
One of the horses recently lost her foal due to her condition.
"If the operation happened two weeks earlier, this might not have been the outcome. We might have been able to save the foal," said Hajek.
The organization is a draft horse only rescue, but when the humane society called Gentle Giants, Hajek said she couldn’t refuse.
“When they called and told us that this was going to happen, of course we said we would help out.”
The horse's neglect occurred in a depressed equine market in which there was no demand for the horses the breeder was selling. The horses often go for upwards of $30,000 and take around $10,000 a month to feed, according to an article in The Washington Post.
“It’s a really difficult situation. This was a situation that involved a high-end breeder who was very well known and for whatever reason she didn’t recognize the situation she was getting in with a depressed equine sales market,” said Hajek.
The horses will not be up for adoption until they are nursed back to health and a criminal case for the owner of Canterbury Farms goes to court, which could take three months to a year, according to Hajek.
No one from the breeding farm returned a phone call for comment.
To volunteer or donate money to the cause visit the group's website here.