FALLON, NV - The owner of the Fallon Livestock Exchange says the horses haven't stopped eating since they got to his facility last Friday night.
The 27 mares and colts are in this pen, while 6 studs are just across the way.
Most are underweight, many with feet so bad they have trouble getting around.
The Churchill County Sheriff's Office says it warned the owner once about neglect.
One horse taken from the property was in such bad condition, it had to be put down at the exchange.
“We are taking a very assertive approach to animal cruelty cases in Churchill County at this point,” says Sheriff Ben Trotter.
This isn't the first time the sheriff has had to seize horses in this county. It's happened three times in the last 6 months.
The worst case was last month when an emaciated Paint horse was taken off private property.
The brand inspector said he had never seen anything like it.
The horse has since been auctioned and gone to a good home.
Investigators say this problem is not going away any time soon, and it is not unique to Churchill or Lyon County, where 17 horses are in the sheriff's custody.
The high cost of hay in the west and the cost of grain in the midwest are putting a strain on horse owners.
While Sheriff Trotter has some sympathy ,he says owning horses is a great responsibility.
A hearing is scheduled for September 19th. At that time a judge will decide if the horses go back to the owner, or will be given to the sheriff's office permanently. The sheriff says if he gets them they will almost immediately go to auction.
The defendant in this case could face up to 34 counts of animal cruelty, all misdemeanors.