COLUMBIA -- In one photo, a foal's hip bones are prominent, its legs are rail thin, and it has a "grass belly," distended from the lack of food.
Another horse's face is scarred from a halter left on so long it had become embedded.
Humane Society officials say the animals are among 23 horses seized from an Eastover pasture Monday morning and that it's unclear how long they were without food or shelter.
The 15-gallon water trough on the premises might have been sufficient on a cool day, but not on the warm days the Midlands has seen recently, Humane Society executive director Josh Gowans said.
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"The level of maintenance was inadequate. There was no evidence of food on the property at all," he said.
The animals' hooves and teeth had not been properly cared for, and that kind of maintenance is essential to horse health, Gowans said. Bad teeth equal poor nourishment, and bad hooves mean painful movement.
No charges have been filed.
Gowans said investigators are trying to sort out ownership of the animals. There was a house at the property, but no tenant.
A woman has claimed ownership of all the horses, Gowans said. She was described as "very hostile" when first approached by Humane Society investigators about the condition of the animals several weeks ago.
"That made us take a closer look," he said.
Gowans said they were following up on two separate tips.
The owner of the property is not being investigated because the land was leased to someone else, Gowans said.
The horses, mostly Arabian, included three foals. Some were as old as 20, veterinarian Dr. Mike Privett said.
Privett was working Monday afternoon to evaluate the horses before they were placed in foster homes.
The Humane Society also seized two adult dogs and five puppies from the location, he said. The puppies were still nursing, but there was no food for the mother or the other dog.
"It's important to note that none of these horses were going to keel over and die today or tomorrow, but given the rate of decline, we felt we needed to step in," Gowans said.