The scheduled meeting between local officials, state veterinarians and volunteers on a Mercer County, Kentucky farm regarding the welfare of more than 40 horses owned by former trainer Maria Borell and/or her father Chuck didn’t go exactly as planned on Monday morning. However, although no official legal action was taken regarding the long-term future of the horses, progress was made. The official decision on the future of the horses is expected to come from the Mercer County attorney, Ted Dean, who has the sole authority to make the final decision, at yet another gathering of the same officials at the farm first thing on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile the attention to the care of the horses increased fourfold Monday, according to lead volunteer Angie Cheak, and more help is starting to roll in.
“We had six vets out here, four from Rood & Riddle and two from the state and they went from horse to horse analyzing their conditions and treating if they needed it,” Cheak said. “I think maybe five or so will go to a clinic for 24-hour acute care within the next day or so just to be safe, but they aren’t in any danger in the meantime. They are eating and drinking and are already much better off.”
One thing Cheak did point out is that the total number of Borell horses on the property actually is 44 and there may have been some confusion over the number because of the handful of horses owned by another tenant who shares some of the farm space.
“The official number is 44 and the vets looked at every one of them today,” Cheak said. “Moving forward there will be a veterinarian at the state’s request here a minimum of three times a week but other than that, I don’t know what will happen. Tomorrow we will know and a protocol will be set up that we will all follow and a more permanent situation will be put in place and the horses will benefit, thank God. I do believe one horse will actually be leaving tomorrow, though.”
Additionally, Cheak said, The Jockey Club and the Grayson Research Foundation made a $15,000 donation to the sheriff’s office, which will be applied as a credit at a local feed store for supplies moving forward. Also the mayor of nearby Burgin county arranged for three round bales of hay to be delivered today and the NTRA donated a John Deere Gator farm vehicle to help move feed and necessities more efficiently around the farm. The volunteers had been regulated to move things physically themselves for the past several weeks.
More donations in the way of feed and supplies continue to pour in and a GoFundMe page set up for the sole benefit of the horses has surpassed $11,500 with more needed. Cheak said there isn’t a supply they don’t need, whether it be brushes, hoof picks, buckets, fly masks and basic care items, including wheelbarrows for mucking stalls and paddocks and moving feed. She said the Borells left them with no supplies and the group of volunteers has made due with their own donations or purchases so far. She also said a blacksmith has been called to do every horse’s feet, as all are in dire need of attention.
Victoria Keith, of Fox Hill Farm, was also at the informal meeting today and said in a Facebook post on the Fox Hill Farm page that she’s pleased with the reaction from all of the county and state officials and proud of the tireless work the volunteers have dedicated to helping the horses. She said she will be returning tomorrow with some other supplies for both the horses and the volunteers.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.