Abused mustangs nursed to health by volunteers at Horses of Tir Na Nog

Small herd released in preserve on Monday

GUATAY, Calif. - Six mustangs that were once on the brink of death were moved to a new home on Monday. 

Volunteers with the Horses of Tir Na Nog nursed the horses back to health and released them in a new 6-acre preserve.

San Diego County Department of Animal Services officials originally seized nine mustangs from an East County ranch in August after discovering they were malnourished and near death. Three had to be euthanized. The other six were taken to the Horses of Tir Na Nog in Guatay, a nonprofit sanctuary for animals that are too sick or too old to be adopted. The mustangs were underweight, sick and their hair had fallen out.

"It's very hard to understand how horses come to the condition that they were in," said Amy Pat Rigney, the executive director of Horses of Tir Na Nog.

An investigation is under way into the original owners of the horses. They may face a fine.

Horses of Tir Na Nog volunteers nursed the mustangs back to health.

"They've gone from emaciated to, I mean, some of them I would classify as fat," said Horses of Tir Na Nog board member DJ Gove.

It was decided on Monday that the mustangs were healthy enough for a new, bigger home. Each had gained between 200 to 300 pounds.

"It just goes to show all you have to do is add food and a little bit of love," said Gove.

The mustangs were ushered into a horse trailer and driven a short distance to a 6-acre preserve, which allows the animals to roam more as a herd in a wild setting.

"Seeing them out here where they really belong is beyond imagination," said Rigney.

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