Owner of underweight horses blames it on bad feed

St. Johns County agricultural deputy investigated, will monitor

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A Facebook post showing horses that appear to look malnourished has generated much interest and an investigation by a St. Johns County agricultural deputy.

The horses are owned by a woman named Jennifer, who rents the St. Johns County property off State Road 13.

The property owner, Gil O’Connor, posted the photos online, showing horses so thin their ribs are showing and there are marks on their faces. He also called the Sheriff's Office.

IMAGES: St. Johns County horses

"I found two horses standing there that looks to me like they hadn’t eaten in months," O’Connor said. "I’m not a vet. I’m not a doctor. I know the horses appear horrible."

The horses' owner texted News4Jax on Monday saying people are making threats against her family and the horses, so she is trying to get out of town. She also said there was a problem with the feed she was using.

They were on a feed called triple crown, that company sold, and changed their formula. Other horse owners have stopped using it as well! My horses went downhill in two weeks! We had to find another feed for them, because they require a senior formula, they are older horses. They've been on their new feed for over a month, and some horses are just hard to put weight on. There is inaccuracy in the photos, not my horses. Have you seen the videos of my horses on my page? Do they look like those photos? NO! Whoever took those photos took them while the horses bodies were turning, or after they had rolled in the black dirt. They aren't skinny, they just don't have muscle, because they couldn't be exercised until they put weight back on. It's also winter! They will fill back out with muscle as soon as they are worked. Bella has always been small, she's an Arabian and has high withers. Horses get rain rot, where their fur will grow back in. when you've had hurricanes and tropical storms. And moisture. It's a fungus, like athletes foot! But it's being treated. There are no open wounds on my horses and I would never let them have one! 

"We went through several brands of feed, and have one now they are doing great on."

The deputy found the horses were too thin, but that the owner wasn’t intentionally not feeding the horses enough food. The owner agreed to take better care of them while the Sheriff’s Office monitors the horses to make sure they’re getting healthier. 

O'Connor said the horses do already appear to look better since he called the Sheriff's Office two weeks ago, but he still has concerns. He said he told the owner that if she can’t afford to take care of the horses, he would buy them from her, but hasn't received a response.