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Neglected horse, found frozen to the ground, making a comeback

Published January 8, 2014 2:18 pm

Animals • Her mother, also found in bad shape, on the mend, too.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A young horse was recovering less than a week after she was found frozen to the ground in a patch of mud in Enoch, her mother also starving and abandoned nearby.

The horse, now known as Elsa, was nearly dead when she was discovered Thursday by passers-by who noticed her mother in distress, said Ginger Grimes, who is caring for the horses at Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses near Cedar City. Elsa, about a year and a half old, was lying in frozen ground.

"There's a body imprint, where you can see every hair strand," said Grimes, who was called to help recover the horses. Elsa's eye was partly frozen and infected with bits of dirt and chunks of ice, Grimes said. She may never recover sight in that eye.

When she arrived at the ranch, vets gave her a 20 percent chance of survival, Grimes said. She and her mother, now named Anna, both had thinned to a body mass officially rated as starvation, Grimes said. Elsa was hypothermic.

Both horses — named for characters in the movie "Frozen" — are improving, Grimes said. Staff have to lift Elsa's head to get her into a sitting position to drink, but she is growing stronger. Volunteers fashioned a sling, and Monday, after being pulled to her feet, she stood for nearly an hour, Grimes said.

"Once she was up, she didn't want to lay down," Grimes said. "We brought her mom in to see her, and they were rubbing each others' noses."

Vets now estimate Elsa has an 80 percent chance of survival, "but we still have a couple of hurdles to cross," Grimes said. The horse is under 24-7 surveillance — caregivers are particularly concerned about any potential damage to her good eye, Grimes said — and she has a lot of weight to gain. Grimes estimates a horse her age and size should weigh 700 to 800 pounds; Elsa weighs only about 400 pounds.

Throughout her recovery, Elsa has remained alert, smacking her lips for water, pointing at her bucket with her nose and kicking on the ground, Grimes said.

"There's something in there to keep her going," Grimes said.

Anna has bounced back quickly and is "loving it," Grimes said.

Volunteers and donors have been rallying for support for the horses on Facebook. For more information, visit Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses on Facebook or go to the website, Dustdevilranch.org

Iron County investigators could not be reached Monday night for details about any investigation into the horses' neglect.