Astrid and Ranger, wrapped in blankets, munched on hay Thursday afternoon at the Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester, just 24 hours after being rescued from their home in Weare.
The two are suffering from severe weight loss. The Henneke Body Condition Scoring scale is used to determine the condition of a horse by checking the neck, withers (where the neck ends and the back begins), shoulder, ribs, loin, and tailhead. The scale tops off at 9 and the best place for a horse to be is around 5.
“Zero is dead so there’s not much less than one,” said Teresa Paradis, founder of Live and Let Live Farm.
Visually, the animals don’t look too bad off, Paradis said. But when you touch them, the effects are apparent. Hip bones and spines stick out farther than they should. Pet their necks and you can feel where the skin caves in between the spine and the esophagus.
“Both of them are pretty hardy breed horses,” Paradis said.
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Astrid, for example, is likely a draft horse breed and should be around a 6 on the scale.
Weare Animal Control Officer Jesse Nelson had two different callers reach out to her last Friday with concerns about the animals after driving past them. Nelson said she met with the owner several times over the last week to try to resolve the situation, but decided that a more serious step needed to be taken.
The owner voluntarily gave the horses over to Paradis. Nelson said the horses would have been seized otherwise.
“It came to a point where she had a choice and she made the right choice,” Nelson said of the owner.
It’s unknown how long the horses were allegedly without proper food. The name of the now-former owner is not being released, but charges are expected to be coming sometime soon, though what those exact charges will be is still up in the air.
“We’re still determining that,” Nelson said.
Paradis said she was grateful for Nelson’s quick handling of the situation, and the work that she and the other animal control officers do.
“Jesse is the best,” she said.
Paradis said she expects the horses to be with her recovering for at least the next year. So far, the two seem to be doing all right, but they will have to be monitored to ensure their organs haven’t been damaged from the lack of nutrition.
“That’s a big ‘if’ because we have no idea how long it was going on for,” she said of the alleged starvation.
Paradis said another horse — Nico — rescued from Weare last year didn’t show any effects until six months after he was rescued. After he shed his winter coat, he was unable to grow any hair, which was indicative of some internal damage.
He was able to regrow a winter coat this year, however, Paradis said.
“He’s doing well and he’s got a good winter coat,” she said.
(New Hampshire Union Leader - Dec 15, 2016)