Dozens of horses in varying stages of illness and starvation have been turned over to officials in Culpeper County.

Culpeper County Animal Control Services is investigating a complaint made regarding the care of horses at Eagle Hill Equine Rescue located about five miles south of Richardsville on the eastern fringes of the county near the Rapidan River.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 40 horses had been voluntarily surrendered, according to a news release from Culpeper County Attorney Bobbi Jo Alexis.

“Animal services is working diligently and tirelessly to place the animals with safe and reputable equine rescue entities,” the release stated.

Volunteer partners include Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Equine Rescue League, Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue and Traveller’s Rescue Equine Elders Sanctuary.

Photos posted Monday on the Central Virginia Horse Rescue Facebook page showed one of the horses that was surrendered.

“This is Harley. She is thin and in pain. And she is only 4 yrs old. We understand that she had an injury to one leg but now all 4 are swollen and sore,” the post stated.

According to animal rescue advocate Marcia Landau of Orange, the situation at Eagle Hill Equine is due to hoarding by the farm owner.

“After 15 years of ugliness, equine animal welfare advocates are thrilled that Eagle Hill will never hurt another horse,” she said.

According to its Facebook page, Eagle Hill Equine opened in 2004 to provide “rescue, rehabilitation and forever placement to abused, neglected or at risk equines.”

Equine Rescue League, in a post Monday, stated the 43 horses and ponies that were removed from Eagle Hill were in a severe state of neglect.

“These animals had no food and no water. Dozens of horses were all struggling to eat from the same hay bale. They had matted manes and tails, eyes full of fear and nowhere to go,” it stated.

Culpeper County Administrator John Egertson said Tuesday afternoon that no criminal charges were pending in the matter.

“The owner voluntarily signed the horses over so that Animal Services could place them. It is a cooperative effort at this time,” he said.

A phone call to Eagle Hill Equine Rescue on Tuesday went to voice mail and the voice mailbox was full.

Donations for the care of the horses are being accepted through Culpeper County Animal Services or the individual rescue groups.

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Allison Brophy Champion can be reached at abrophy@starexponent.com or (540) 825-4315.

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