Their coats have regained their shine.
Their eyes are bright and alert.
And they’ve got fashionable new names.
Horses Versace, Vera, Prada, Gucci and Ralph were so emaciated when they were rescued from a barn on Slocum Road in April that staff at the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center in Franktown worried each day that the animals wouldn’t live to see the next.
The five steeds, once severely underweight, have put on pounds, gotten dental work and been vaccinated and dewormed. On Monday, they will be taken to Colorado Horse Rescue Network in Rush, where they’ll be up for adoption.
Last week, the group greeted Harmony Equine Center Director Garret Leonard with whinnies as he approached their grassy paddock.
“You can tell by looking at them they’re nice and healthy now,” he said. “They look good.”
In all, 10 horses were rescued from the El Paso County property in March. Two more, Fendi and Couture, will remain at the center for further training. Another two, so emaciated that their bone marrow fat was being eaten away, died before they could be rehabilitated.
Their former owner, 53-year-old Brian Holloway, faces 12 charges of animal cruelty, two of which are felonies. He pleaded not guilty to the charges last month in 4th Judicial District Court.
Harmony Equine Center has taken in about 1,800 horses, but this group was perhaps the most skeletal of all, Leonard said.
“The truth is, I thought we were going to lose the majority of them because they were in such bad shape. But they’ve been very, very resilient,” he said.
The survivors that are now up for adoption range from 11 to 20 in age. Staff at the center have trained and ridden all five, Leonard said.
The best fit for each of the animals would likely be someone with riding experience who knows how to feed and care for them, he said.
“They can go a lot of different directions,” Leonard said. “The best day for anybody here is when they’re adopted and get on a trailer and go to their new home.”
Colorado Horse Rescue Network has heard from several people who want to adopt the horses, says Carrie Terroux-Barrett, executive director of the organization.
“A lot of people are very sensitive to this case,” she said. Those who’ve seen media coverage of recent animal cruelty cases in El Paso County likely feel compelled to act, she said.
Two malnourished horses were seized from a property near Calhan in May. Two more were rescued from another El Paso County property after investigators determined they were criminally neglected.
When Terroux-Barrett is contacted by someone interested in adopting one of the rescue’s horses, she typically visits the potential new homes to vet them, she said.
“We’re looking for people who are going to be permanent homes, who are going to offer these horses the structure and the riding that these horses are going to flourish with,” she said.
“We really don’t want to see any of these guys back in the system. They’ve certainly overcome enough already.”
Anyone who’s interested in adopting one of the horses can visit coloradohorserescuenetwork.com for more information.