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Jan 23, 2012 9:32 AM by AP

Malnourished, neglected horses now getting care

MANY, La. (AP) - Greener pastures are greeting some of the malnourished and neglected horses seized two weeks ago from a Sabine Parish property owner.
The Sabine Humane Society has been successful in finding additional foster homes where the animals can receive individualized attention. Still, society members are being "extremely cautious" about their picks to ensure the thoroughbreds are in trusted hands. Site visits are required to make certain the horses have adequate housing, fencing and paddock areas.
"We also look at the other horses they have. This happens before these horses go to the foster homes," Humane Society member Mary Key Brocato said.
The Times reports (http://bit.ly/wz7u9y ) the society seized about 60 thoroughbreds from Charles Ford's Hillcrest Farms near Many on Jan. 6.
Ford, 64, of Many, who reportedly ran a horse breeding and training farm, faces charges of cruelty to animals. The remains of about 25 horses were found on Ford's property.
The Louisiana Horse Rescue Association took 45 of the horses, and the others went to a Sabine Parish farm and other rescue groups. Four horses moved to Louisiana Horse Rescue have since died.
Still, volunteers have stepped up, giving the horses hands-on attention. They also muck out barns and pull green grass for the horses to eat. Brocato singled out the Sabine Animal Shelter staff, Lisa Butler and Sarah Ritchie, as well as three Sabine Parish Detention Center inmates assigned to work there.
"They also clean all the dog kennels and feed all the dogs and take care of all the cats at the shelter," Brocato said. "So with the horses, they have lots of additional work to do now. And they do it cheerfully. ... All of us feel that although we can't do anything about the conditions they came from, we will do everything in our power to see that they have good homes and better lives from now on."
Mary and Allen Kelly, who own Old River Farms and Riding Center in south Natchitoches, are caring for four 2-year-old colts and hope eventually to find permanent homes for them.
She leads the Northwest Louisiana 4-H Horse Club in Natchitoches that involves 4-H-ers from across the region. Through the activities with her horses, Mary Kelly said she's seen the difference that can be made in the life of a child who may have struggles at home or school.
"Horses are good therapy for everybody," she said. "These four colts already have kids loving all over them. They are already special."
After the colts are nursed back to full health, she said she would like to see them trained, such as for English saddle riding. By that time, she also hopes the attachment with a child may lead to the horse's adoption.
It's important, Brocato said, that thoroughbreds are not just treated like backyard pets.
"They need jobs. So we look for homes and placement where the horses will be brought back to health and then retrained for jobs, not racing jobs and not as brood mares. Just as we rescue a dog or cat from terrible conditions and find a new home where it will be loved and cared for, we will do the same for these horses. That's our only goal for them," she said.
Saturday was the deadline for Ford to seek return of any of the horses. If he didn't, the humane society can begin seeking permanent placements.
Goats and pigs also were seized from Ford. "He has cooperated with us in getting all of the other animals off of his property," society President Larry Kelly said.

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