Two animal welfare organizations rescued 32 miniature horses from a small farm in West Boylston, on Thursday after a state veterinarian determined that the horses’ basic needs were not being met.
The horses were underweight, dirty, and laden with internal parasites, according to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The MSPCA transported 18 of the horses to the MSPCA Nevins Farm facility in Methuen. The other horses were transported to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s facility in Dedham.
“This is one of the saddest rescues we’ve experienced in quite a while, with such a large number of animals in such desperate condition,” Melissa Ghareeb, who manages the barn at Nevins Farm, said in a statement.
The owner voluntarily surrendered the animals, according to MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin. He said the horses all were suffering from a skin infection often referred to as “rain rot,” which is caused by inadequate housing and overexposure to the elements.
“They’re all in pretty rough shape,” Halpin said.
The horses all had parasitic infections, which will require significant de-worming. The infections also contributed to the horses’ malnourishment, the groups said.
“These horses are extremely malnourished due to the alarmingly high level of intestinal parasites that are interfering with their ability to absorb nutrients,” Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, director of veterinary medical services at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, said in a statement.
For now, the horses will be carefully monitored and rehabilitated. Halpin said the horses have never been bridled and have had very little human interaction.
He said his organization was getting in touch with a number of miniature horse rescue groups in the Northeast and planned to send some of the horses to them, as their condition improves.