Horses are known for the majesty and strength, but they are all too often regarded as commodities and commodities alone. Despite the fact that these animals are amazingly intelligent and have emotions just as humans do, they are commonly exploited. Whether they’re used for hauling heavy loads, entertaining tourists, or pitted against one another on racetracks, horses experience some of the worst forms of abuse.

Seen for nothing more than their value to their humans, horses are commonly abandoned and discarded when they grow too old or weak to perform their “function.” The Unwanted Horse Coalition estimates there are around 170,000 unwanted horses in the U.S. These animals range from horses who their owner can no longer afford to care for, injured or lame horses, or any other horse that has lost its ability to “perform as their owner desires, whether that be for racing, pleasure riding, or some other purpose.”

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Rather than arranging for appropriate care for these horses, owners are known to simply abandon their animals, or worse, send them to slaughter. With around 90,000 to 140,000 horses sent to slaughter annually, abandonment certainly seems like the “kinder” option, but a recent story from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) illustrates the true consequences of this action.

Six emaciated horses were recently rescued by TRF after a string of investigations revealed the horrific conditions they were living in under the care of Breeder’s Cup award-winning trainer Maria Borell. Borell trained horses for sprinting competitions but became unable to care for the animals. According to reports, Borell was riddled with debt but continued to hold the animals – despite efforts from TRF to offer help.

The horses were deprived of food and water and their poor condition eventually garnered attention in social media, leading to an investigation by Mercer County, Kentucky officials.

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Thankfully, the County officials ruled that the horses – there were 43 in total – were officially declared “abandoned” and eligible for rescue. TRF took in six of the animals and they are working to help them recover. 

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So far, things are looking positive.“Aside from being hungry, they’re really friendly, alert, and interested in the world around them,” TRF’s Sara Davenport said. “When we walk out into the fields to visit them, they pick their heads up and allow us to pet them.”

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We are so happy that these animals are now in the able hands of TRF and finally getting the kind of care they really deserve. Unfortunately, many horses never get this sort of help. The organization hopes to take in a few more horses that were rescued in this ruling and needs all the support they can get! To make a donation to help care for these needy horses, click here.

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All image source: TRF