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'U Of M' Hospital Nurses Horses Back To Health

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) -- It was earlier this week when authorities seized the first of 10 allegedly malnourished horses from Lowell Friday's N.V. Arabian Ranch in Anoka County.

At the time, Friday disputed the condition of the horses, telling reporters, "it's a healthy Golden Palomino, a little low of weight because it's an old horse, you know."

Friday willingly released the two most distressed horses to the Animal Humane Society investigators who brought them to the University of Minnesota large animal hospital for care.

A Hennepin County District Court Judge later granted a search warrant, allowing an additional eight horses to be taken from Friday's ranch.

Inside the stables at the U of M's animal hospital, veterinarians showed the compelling evidence of malnourishment. The horses in question are grossly underweight and infested with lice and intestinal parasites.

"When the horses came in, the initial exam revealed that they were severely malnourished," said Dr. Anna Firshman, assistant clinical professor.

Firshman adds the horses are anywhere from 200 to 300 pounds underweight. Normally, horses of their ages would weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds.

The severe weight loss is from a combination of poor or insufficient diet, as well as intestinal worms. The infestation is preventing whatever nutrition they consume from transferring into body fats and muscle.

Inside the stalls, pathology tests which have confirmed the presence of worms prompts staff to give medicine that will kill the worms.

At first sight of the protruding ribs, it's one's natural inclination to want to give the horses plenty to eat. But veterinary staff say that would most certainly prove fatal. At first, the horses will need to consume tiny portions of food to allow their digestive tracts to slowly heal.

"It's a slow process, basically talking months at least,"
Firshman said.

Once the worms are gone, the hay and grain will gradually help the horses thrive and regain their weight. If ranch owner Friday doesn't challenge the court ordered seizure of the final seven horses, they'll become state property in 10 days.

"Based on the adoptability, their health and other variables, we'll make the decision on what the future holds for these animals," said Keith Streff, the Animal Humane Society's senior investigator.

Streff believes authorities intervened just in time, before the horses' health declined any further. Streff said it will be up to the city attorney to decide if the alleged neglect supports misdemeanor charges against Friday.

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