• 48°

Horses from Mercer neglect case continuing to recover

By KERRY STEINHOFER
kerry.steinhofer@amnews.com
Some of the 43 horses involved in an animal neglect investigation in Mercer County are improving.
The six horses taken to Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in Lexington are doing much better than when they first arrived, said farm manager Linda Dyer.
 “Two of the geldings have gained a lot of weight and will be back to their normal weight in two months,” Dyer said. “The mares had the yearlings weaned off of them and are doing much better, but it will be two more months on one of them and the one mare that was very bad will probably take two to three more months as she was just a skeleton. She is getting some hair growth back.”
When the horses were first brought into the facility, they were put in paddocks in order for their stomachs to get used to having something to eat. By the fifth week at the facility, they were given bits of pellets and a small amount of hay. Now that their stomachs are used to receiving food, they are now able to eat grass, hay and feed, Dyer said.
“The old mare is out with our other older mares now and happier to be in the field and is gaining, but she was pretty bad also and will take two to three more months as she is over 20 years old,” Dyer said. “The gelding named Z has gained at least 75 pounds, but you can hardly tell as he was a skeleton when he came in.” 
When Z was brought to the facility, he had essentially no muscle left on him. Now that he has been cared for, he has a built some chest and hip muscles and his stomach is filling out, Dyer said.
Due to the amount of neglect, Dyer said she thinks he temporarily lost the ability to produce hair, but he is now starting to gain more of it back. 
The horses are receiving a lot of treatment with special medical baths and healing skin ointments that were donated to the facility by the community.
“The horses act like they are really enjoying all of the special attention, and they sigh with contented relief,” Dyer said. “They know they are finally being taken care of. Every time we look at them, we still cannot believe someone would do this to a horse or any animal — it was inhumane.”
In early June, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a possible case of animal neglect after 43 horses were brought to a farm in Mercer County.
According to Thoroughbred Daily News, KDOA announced June 28 that six of the horses were moved offsite to receive care at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation facility. The remaining horses stayed at the farm where they were found and are being cared for.
Volunteers and local law enforcement have cared for the horses since they were discovered on the farm at 263 Martin Lane, state veterinarian Robert Stout told The Herald-Leader.
“Several entities in the equine industry have been very generous,” Stout said. “It’s been very gratifying to see the response.”
Donations of more than $22,000 for the horses’ care have been made through a GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/AbandonedHorseFund). Other donations have been made to help feed and take care of the horses.
At the end of June, Charles Borell, father of horse trainer Maria Borell, was arrested and charged with 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals, KDOA’s Shane Mitchell told The Herald-Leader.
According to that report, Mitchell said a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Maria Borell, whose horse Unhappy won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2015.
According to Thoroughbred Daily News, on July 1, Charles Borell was released on a $4,300 bond after spending more than 48 hours at the Boyle County Detention Center.
There is still a warrant out for the arrest of Maria Borell. However, KDOA state veterinarian Dr. Robert C. Stout told Thoroughbred Daily News that “his department lacks the resources to launch an all-out search for Maria Borell.”
Stout also explained that “the KDOA has neither the manpower nor the money to launch an exhaustive effort to apprehend a Class A misdemeanor offender who might have fled the state.”
“Unfortunately, there’s not really a good process. It’s a misdemeanor, and I don’t think it’s extraditable even if an out-of-state authority could locate her,” Stout told Thoroughbred Daily News. “I have heard nothing about her possible whereabouts at all, and we don’t have the resources to extend [a search for her] beyond local. That’s not something we could do.”
KDOA leveled one Class A misdemeanor charge of abuse against each of the Borells for each horse that was left neglected on the farm. A Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky is punishable by 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $500 for each count. With 43 counts, the maximum fine would be $21,500.