Officials of the Washington County Humane Society in Maryland found a dead horse and the skeletal remains of at least five others at Windrinker Farm in Sharpsburg, Md., on Dec. 3.
Possible animal cruelty and neglect are suspected, and further investigation will be conducted. But as of Dec. 4, charges have not been filed against the farm owner, and the investigation is ongoing.
The Humane Society is now caring for nearly 75 horses from the property. Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society, said most of the animals were ill and malnourished, with visible rib cages and backbones.
Officials deemed 10 horses in critical condition while one collapsed and died in a trailer during transportation to Day’s End Farm in Howard County. More removals are possible.
Miller added that most horses also suffered from cuts, abrasions and infections. Little feed was found on the farm. Volunteers brought bales of hay.
The 35-acre farm has been declared a crime scene, and its 61-year-old owner, Barbara P. Reinken, a registered nurse who said she has a degree in animal husbandry, is not allowed on the property. She told officials that all horses lived under veterinary care and that she fed and groomed them regularly.
Local veterinarians and workers from the Humane Society evaluated the horses on Sunday afternoon.
“I think that, certainly, there were some needs for these horses that weren’t being met,” Miller told the Herald-Mail. “It’s not a pretty sight. It’s not something I like seeing.”
A call about the dead horse, which was visible from a nearby road, prompted the search, Miller said. The Humane Society had already received several complaints about the farm in the past three years, including reports of numerous loose horses at a time and other dead horses.
Officials found horses as young as 3 weeks old on the property, as well as several pregnant mares. Miller believed many horses were inbreeding.
Humane Society officials are providing care for the animals at the farm while those that require veterinary attention have been transported to care facilities.