There has been a big improvement in the condition of the north Texas horses seized nearly two months ago, including this horse, pictured above and at bottom this week, and below, when he was seized.
A total of 77 horses were seized from a Pilot Point property by the Denton County Sheriff's Office on August 14, assisted by staff of the Humane Society of North Texas.
Almost all the horses were identified as Egyptian Arabians, many of them with rare bloodlines. There are fewer than 30,000 registered Egyptian Arabians in the world.
Sixty-six-year-old Gordon Dennis Key, of Ranazans Arabians, signed the animals over to the humane society, which set about rehoming them.
The bidding process was devised by the society after consulting with key Arabian industry leaders. Prospective bidders had to apply for registration for the right to bid. They were vetted to ensure they had the experience to handle the horses, most of whom are unbroken.
While the society received several hundred inquiries about adopting the horses - at one stage they had four lines receiving calls, as well as cellphones - the vetted list of approved bidders considered to have suitable credentials amounted to a little over 100 people.
The society's lead humane investigator, Tammy Roberts, said 76 of the horses have been offered in the auction process, which closes this week. She told Horsetalk today that one of the breeding mares had reached $US7500 and others had reached $US2500.
There have been several bids of at least $US2000. Even some of the older geldings were attracting bidder interest, around the $US100 to $US300 mark.
About 20 of the horses have so far attracted bids.
"We just want to see these horses in good homes and being cared for. They have been through so much."
Roberts said many of the horses were older. She said there were two yearlings, several 3-5-year-olds and a large group aged 8-10. The remainder were mostly over 20.
She expected some of the horses would remain without homes after the auction and the society would sift through the applications in a bid to get the horses suitably rehomed.
Nearly all the horses have been formally identified and have been matched to registration paperwork.
"Some wonderful Arabian people came in," she says. They went through the paperwork, checked those with brands and managed to match nearly all the animals with their formal paperwork.
She said the society was still getting calls about the horses, including overseas interest, which would likely lead to more bidders being approved.
Some of the horses were found in stalls thick with dung and urine.
Their improving condition has seen some of them grow feistier, she noted, with staff getting the odd nip and bite.
Roberts said the Humane Society of North Texas had spent $US200,000 so far this year on equine cruelty cases.
"We have taken on over 500 horses in the last two years," she said.
She praised the arabian horse community for its support.
"The arab community has stepped up to assist in volunteering and raising some funds." One organisation raised $US2000 to help feed the horses, she said.
"We would like to see more of this in the horse world," she said. The arab community had set an example that she would like to see other breed groups follow.
Roberts said the Denton County District Attorney's Office was continuing its investigation into the treatment of the horses before their seizure.