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Heather Nellis - Horses seized from a Sprakers farm Thursday eat hay at the Easy Street Horse Rescue Friday.

Photo courtesy of Cathleen Berry - Horses confined to a dilapidated barn at a Lynk Street farm in Sprakers were two of 13 seized by State Police on Thursday.

Heather Nellis - Anna Stone, a volunteer at the Easy Street Horse Rescue in the town of Florida, works with rescued horse Friday.

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‘Wild’ horses are rescued from farm in town of Root

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - Updated: 6:51 AM

By HEATHER NELLIS

For the C-S-E

TOWN OF FLORIDA — At the Easy Street Horse Rescue Friday, young volunteer Anna Stone led a year-old mare she named Joy around an enclosed pen, trying to distract the malnourished baby horse so it could be bathed.

For the most part, Joy was docile, allowing Stone’s mother, Sheila Stone, to gently rub the horse’s matted, filthy coat with a soft, wet sponge.

“Usually, a horse her age wouldn’t let us do this right now,” Sheila Stone said. “It’s not really a good thing she’s letting us; it means she’s exhausted.”

Joy is just one of 13 sick and hungry horses seized from a Sprakers farm Thursday during a search warrant executed by State Police, said Sgt. Dan Charleson.

He said Troopers David Bednarek and Andrew Neff spent Friday working with the Langley Road-based horse rescue to corral what were described as “extremely wild” horses from the Sprakers farm owned by Carl Vitale at 656 Lynk St.

Vitale was wanted on previous charges for criminal nuisance and for a failure to properly confine a bull located on his farm, Charleson said, and the warrant was issued in regard to possible animal neglect.

Troopers said numerous dead horses were located on the grounds “in various stages of decomposition.”

As for the horses still alive, 13 have been put under the care of Nina Bellinger at the non-profit Florida rescue that was established in 2006, with more on their way.

Charleson said troopers will return to the Lynk Street farm next week to seize the remaining two young mares, and the investigation is still open, with charges pending, though none have been filed at this time.

“None of these horses were even halter trained, lead trained, trailered,” said Bellinger. “Over half were extremely wild. Without the fantastic support of Saratoga Equine, we might still be trying to catch and load them, as they had to be sedated.”

Bellinger said dozens of volunteers turned out to help the troopers, who spent the day out in “mucky, manure-filled pastures and dilapidated barns catching horses.”

Seven stallions and five mares took to the comfort of Bellinger’s land Friday, with another mare sheltered at another foster care with a birthing stall because she’s ready to deliver a foal any day, Bellinger said.

She suspects the other mares are likely pregnant, as none of the stallions had been castrated, though that will likely happen in the near future, said Saratoga Equine Veterinarian Julie Cornell White.

First, White said the horses have to be given time to acclimate to their new surroundings. She said she was encouraged by their behavior Friday, as most appeared content to nibble on patches of grass, roll on the ground to scratch their backs, or whinny across the yard to one another for brief “chats.”

“They all look happy,” White said.

But recovery is a long process that will take up to a year for some. White said considering none of the stallions were gelded, inbreeding is likely to have occurred between the horses, heightening concerns of behavioral issues.

Parasites are one of the biggest threats, White said. Additionally, she said, one mare has a hernia, likely from being kicked by another horse at one point or another in her life, and several have “really bad feet,” some from tendon injuries.

White said all the horses were malnourished, and none have vaccine histories.

Bellinger said she was first approached by State Police last summer, when they were first called for complaints about Vitale’s farm. She said the horses were much healthier then.

“The police didn’t have a warrant then. All we could do was try to get as close to the site as we could, then [Vitale] saw us and chased us off,” she remembered.

Bellinger said she had a long conversation Thursday with Vitale, who she believes “really loves the horses. He was upset and he cried. I don’t think he realized how far he let it slip. It took a lot of years for it to get like this.”

Bellinger said the site will need a lot of volunteers to take care of the horses, plus help to raise funds, coordinate events and adoptions.

Expenses from the rescue are expected to reach $10,000, so Bellinger’s non-profit organization is readily accepting donations. They can be made via PayPal to easystreetrescue-@aol.com, or checks can be made payable to Easy Street Horse Rescue at 109 Langley Road, Amsterdam.

Bellinger said she would also appreciate donations of good horse-quality hay, round and square, and senior and mare/foal grain in pellet form.

For more information, visit www.easystreetrescue.org.

     

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