TEXAS CITY — A hearing date has been set for the case of five malnourished horses seized from a West Texas City stable.
The two sickest horses — which were in critical condition after being seized Tuesday — made it through the night and were in better condition Wednesday.
One of the horses, a palomino mare, was standing, while the other, a bay mare, had gotten up for a short period but was still on the ground Wednesday afternoon.
The young horses were among five seized Tuesday by Texas City animal control officers. Three of the horses, while in poor shape, were well enough to be taken to the Habitat for Horses facility in Hitchcock.
A hearing to determine whether the horses had been treated cruelly or abandoned was set for 9 a.m. Tuesday before Justice of Peace Darrell Apffel at 2516 Texas Ave. in Texas City.
Police launched the investigation after animal control officers seized the horses from a stable 800 block of North Orchid near the Kohfeldt Park riding arena. Two of the horses were carried out on sleds and taken to Santa Fe Equine Associates for care.
The horses were 300 to 400 pounds underweight, and their body temperature was low. They looked as if they had not been properly cared for in months, the veterinarians who treated them said.
Dr. Michelle C. Milton said the two mares were in critical condition Tuesday and that the first night under care would be critical.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Milton said Wednesday afternoon.
She was treating the horses’ eyes with antibiotic and antifungal ointments to help deal the ulcerations of the eyes caused by dirt. The two were still receiving fluids and were still dealing with low body temperatures.
Milton stayed with the horses overnight. She said that when the horses were still alive early Wednesday morning, she knew they were fighters.
Both horses were helped to their feet around 10 a.m.
Dr. Dennis W. Jenkins said the fact that the horses were young would help in their recovery. While the horses were doing better, they were still not out of the woods, Jenkins said.
“You’ve got to be real slow about getting them where you want them to be,” he said. He said it could be about six months before they recover fully.
“That was pretty amazing that they made it through the night,” said Susan Moore, lead investigator for Habitat for Horses.
The rescue organization got a tip about the horses and passed it on to Texas City police.
The horses will stay in the Habitat for Horses facility until the judge’s ruling, Moore said. The judge could give the organization permanent custody.
The three other horses, all three males, were at the Habitat for Horses facility in Hitchcock.
“They are obviously emaciated horses,” Moore said of the two sorrels and one miniature.
All the horses were suffering from rain rot or dermatophilus, a mixed bacterial and fungal skin infection. Their necks were sunken in, and the ribs and hip bones of the sorrels were clearly jutting out. The younger of the sorrels had an enlarged stomach, a condition likely caused by parasites, Moore said.
While malnourished, the three males were doing well Wednesday and were being given hay and water, Moore said.
And while cautious about the outlook for the two horses in the worst condition, Jenkins said the first night was a good first step.
“The fact that they are still alive is a wonderful blessing,” he said.
How to help
Donations are being accepted by Habitat for Horses to help cover the cost of the horses’ care. Contact the organization at 409-935-0277.