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'I've never seen one that bad': Starving horse rescued near Gila Bend

A Buckeye ranch took in a severely malnourished horse on Monday and is attempting to figure out who may have owned her.
Credit: Hope Ranch Arizona

BUCKEYE, Ariz. — A severely malnourished horse found wandering around the desert near Gila Bend found a new home on Monday after a Buckeye ranch rescued the starving animal. 

Misian Cory, the operator of Hope Ranch Arizona, took in the stray horse and is in the process of nursing her back to health by feeding her electrolytes and supplements.

"This is probably the most heartbreaking rescue that we've done," she said. "I've never seen one that bad."

Cory's phone started flooding with calls and text messages a couple of days ago from friends who had spotted the underweight horse walking alone in the desert. 

The ranch's manager and a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy teamed up to find the horse near Gila Bend. After spotting her, they brought her a bucket of water that was quickly slurped down by the emaciated horse.  

They transported her back to Buckeye, bathed her, trimmed her hooves, and are having her evaluated by a veterinarian. 

Cory said she wasn't sure if the horse would survive through the night. The horse was in such rough shape, she said, it appeared like the animal was probably hours or days away from death.

"She has zero body fat," Cory said. "When you see her in person, it's literally a walking skeleton. I don't know how she made it this long honestly."

But the horse made it through her first night at Cory's ranch -- a miraculous feat that prompted her new caregiver to give her the name of Blessing.  

Now the ranch will begin the process of slowly easing Blessing into a normal diet by first feeding her about a quarter of what horses typically eat each day. 

"You can't feed her too much because that can also harm them when they've been that starved," Cory said. 

Credit: Hope Ranch Arizona

Hope Ranch, which looks after up to 20 rescue horses at a time, is also looking into who may have previously owned Blessing before she was found in the desert. 

Cory said she's spotted a tattooed number on Blessing's lip, which suggests she may have been a racehorse at some point. 

She hopes if someone had owned Blessing and chose to dump her in the desert, then they'll be prosecuted for animal cruelty. 

"If you can't take care of an animal," Cory said, "then just surrender it to a place like us."

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said it's currently looking into the circumstances surrounding Blessing's possible abandonment.

Hope Ranch has had two other malnourished horses surrendered to them over the last week but neither of those horses appeared to be as underweight as Blessing. 

Hope Ranch is accepting donations that will go toward's Blessing's medical expenses. The ranch is hoping Blessing may recover enough to someday be trained to provide equine therapy to young people. 

RELATED: Viral video helps MCSO arrest alleged horse abusers

RELATED: Chandler man arrested for alleged animal cruelty to three horses

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