A nearly month-long investigation into starving horses will now be in the hands of prosecutors.
The Brown County Sheriff's Department impounded nine Thoroughbreds housed at a stable near Aberdeen. Two of them died; a half dozen are still recovering.
After treatments and regular feedings, the impounded horses are willing to run again. Owners of Foote Creek Stables say you wouldn't have seen that a month ago.
"They're obviously gaining ground but it is a very slow process. You have to be very careful," Jennifer Bjorgaard said.
Bjorgaard owns the stable and says a young trainer from the Aberdeen area whose name authorities aren't yet releasing rented outdoor space at her facility. He brought nine horses; at least some of them had been racing.
"They had shelter and automatic water but other than that, he was to provide the feed and take care of them himself," Bjorgaard said.
Bjorgaard says the trainer told her he was concerned about the condition of some of the horses and he wanted to rehabilitate them at her facility over the winter.
"The horses were getting worse and worse and worse,” Bjorgaard said. “And when the weather started declining it really took them downhill fast. That's when the sheriff was contacted.”
According to Brown County's chief deputy, the sheriff's department seized the animals November 9. Two of them died right away.
In addition to law enforcement, a local vet and the state vet have been involved.
And Bjorgaard says the horses had worms.
The owner of one horse claimed it and took it home. The stable is now feeding the remaining six animals four times a day and adding various supplements in while doing so.
"We are going to take care of them, I guess, until the sheriff gives us other orders," Bjorgaard said.
Law enforcement says the investigation has focused on the trainer who rented the space. Bjorgaard says some of the horses had been at the stable a month before the sheriff stepped in; others had been there about a month and a half.