This page is dedicated to a herd of horses located on a 5-acre farm at 869 North Road, Houlton, Maine that have been monitored by the Maine Animal Welfare Department for many years. Not only has this issue never been resolved, but it has grown in numbers and the issues are the same time and time again... yet NO summons have ever been issued. EVER!!! There are currently over 100 horses (mostly Caspian and Fjord) in this herd. The horses are kept on a parcel of land that is totally covered in manure in the winter time. During the summer months, the owner leases pasture from a neighbor and moves some of the horses to pasture at a family farm about 10 miles away. Even with this respite, there is not enough GOOD forage. As some of our pictures will show, not all "green" is good, nor should horses eat it... but they will, when nothing else is available.
We are not sure exactly when complaints started, but sometime prior to 2009, the State found noncompliance with animal welfare laws, and gave the owner time to correct them. They then issued a letter that stated she had complied. During this time, the owner spent at least six months in Alaska each year to run a restaurant there from approximately May to November. The horses were left in the care of others. From 2009-2011, there were no complaints that we have been made aware of, due in part to proper care from a person who has a background in horses and their care. That person was fired because she would not follow the wishes of the owner. Different groups of people were left to care for the horses until the fall of 2013 when the owner returned and has not gone back to Alaska since. Complaints started to come in to the Animal Welfare Department again in 2012 and have continued until now. Mr. Ellis Additon (Bureau Head of the Department of Agriculture) stated that the complaints were consistent with No Food, No Water, No Shelter. When contacting the Animal Welfare Department, this is an open case for the past three years, and therefore, they are unable to share any information with us. All they will say is that it is being investigated. They no longer take anyone's name or information to record the complaints coming in.
In January, 2015, phone complaints started again. The local Animal Control Officer for the town of Houlton could not visit the site due to surgery recooperation, and passed along the call to the State Animal Welfare Agent. The State Agent reported back that everything was fine. The horses were fine. The horses broke out of their pastures in February and were videoed by employees of Vision Care of Maine on their way to work in Houlton. This is not the first time they have escaped. It has been documented in previous years, also. And it was not the last time, as there were MANY more escapes over the next several months... There were seven times in the month of April, twice in one day on May 9 and most recently, July 16, 29 and Aug 4, 2015. The grass is most definitely greener on the other side of the fence for these horses...
After two break outs in February, the local Houlton Animal Control Officer was concerned about the condition of the horses. March 10, 2015, it was discovered that 10 horses were in an enclosure on a 1.26 acre property owned by Loring Development Authority (LDA). This property is adjacent to the farm land via an easement road that allows access to this landlocked property that used to carry jet fuel for Loring Air Force Base. LDA took over these properties and they are overseen by Maine EPA. Over the years, the Government has been responsible for removing contaminated soil and monitoring ground water through a series of test wells due to contamination by spilled fuel. None of this property belongs to the owner of the horses of this farm. Permission was never granted for the use of this land for the horses.
We found these 10 horses - One Fjord and nine Caspian horses (all stallions) - in a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. There was absolutely no shelter and their water tub was filled with snow... NO WATER. Two concrete block buildings are within the fence, but are not open to shelter. They are closed buildings for the mecanicals of the pump station. Pictures of these buildings are clearly shown in pictures on the owner's web site so it is apparent she has been using this enclosure for many years.
We tried to contact the State Animal Welfare Department with this news, but were told that their agent was aware of the horses, that everything was okay and the horses were fine... Not satisfied with that answer, we contacted the Littleton Animal Welfare Officer. The location of the pump station and the 10 stallions in actually in the town of Littleton, not Houlton. Please note that the owner's land is in the town of Houlton, but the LDA property, the easement road and the horses inside the pump station enclosure are in the town of Littleton. Two different jurisdictions. Randy Schools (Littleton ACO) contacted the owner and the State and they set up a meeting. So from March 10, when we discovered the horses with no shelter and no water, until March 17 when they had their first meeting, they had no water, no shelter and we documented that with visits via the easement road.
The owner was told to put up a temporary shelter for the horses and get them water. According to the State, who had been monitoring this site "bi-monthly", did not issue any summons even though these are again complaints that have been "consistent with all the other complaints of no food, shelter and water."
The rest is history... We have been watching and videoing over the weeks and months. Going down there in the worst of weather since that is when the need is the greatest. The pictures tell the story..... The State still insists everything is just fine.... Maine Laws are specific to Equine... there MUST be adequate shelter for ALL... Ice and snow are not substitutes for water.... Food must be in sufficient quantities to sustain the horse in a good condition. These are all great laws... but they MUST BE ENFORCED.
March 10, 2015 - This is an aerial view of the pump station property. The circle is where the gate is and where the water tub was found. The two buildings are concrete housing for mechanicals that run the pump station which used to pump fuel to Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME. The only shelter the horses had was to stand next to the buildings and use them as a wind break. Note the massive amount of snow piled against the gate. Round hay bales were put over the fence where road was plowed up to the fence... where the ground is brown. If you look closely, you can see the horses there. Notice the little black dots in the snow on the left side. They are all test wells for monitoring ground water contamination. There are no trees within the enclosure.
March 10, 2015 Here is the gate to the pump station as seen from the top of the mound of snow. Note the hose going into the water tub. Had there been water in there at any recent time, this would have been solid ice...
Another view of the water tub. You can see some marks in the snow from licking and nuzzling... looking for water.
March 10, 2015 - Pump station property... what was left of hay on the ground. Nothing else for them to eat. Lots of baling twine (red/orange stuff) mixed in. Mound of snow in background is tarped dirt that was excavated from around these buildings due to contamination.
March 10, 2015 - looking through the fence at the pump station horses... 10 stallions here... 9 Caspian and 1 Fjord. Note that fence is approximately 5 feet high with a "V" pattern of barbed wire at the top.
March 15, 2015 - Hay put out to horses is totally black on the outside... only good on the inside. The larger breed on this farm is the Fjord. They tend to get to the hay first and the smaller Caspian horses are left to wait their turn. Same happens with any of the shelter available to them. There is not enough shelter for all, so the larger horses block the others from access.
This site is still under construction... Please come back for additional information...
This page was last updated: April 27, 2017
The hay is so moldy and "wet" that it creates a shell that the horses are eating out of. When all the "good" hay is out of the center, they will eventually eat this because it's the only thing there is.
March 15, 2015 - Black hay exterior is so moldy and slimy that it stands alone as the center is eaten out.
Still no water in tub - March 15, 2015
March 23, 2015 - Second visit by state - approved lawn mower tent for 10 horses... note that there had been water in the tub, but that there was none in the tub under that ice when this picture was taken... we were told that it had been filled "yesterday" and that they came down and broke a hole through, but they didn't need water every day.
March 27, 2015 - Fairly decent day. Lots of hay around because of recent State visit. Horses laying in it because it's not often they have a clean place to lay down and stretch out.
This one had a tail that was full of burdock... oh, but they are handled and cared for, right?
Enjoying a little dry hay to rest in. This is the ONLY time we found the horses in such a relaxed state when visiting... March 27, 2015
Easter Weekend... April 4, 2015...We found the horses without food and pawing for leftovers in a nasty snow storm. It isn't just the Caspians who are often without at this farm. Some of the Fjords are not as well, also.
Another Fjord looking for scraps - Easter Weekend, April 4, 2015 - No food out for the horses...
April 4, 2015 - Look closely, the white "blob" in the trees is the second tent that was put at the pump station to act as shelter for the horses. It didn't last long in the high winds that accompanied the storm.
April 4, 2015 - The original shelter was still in place and there was water in the tub... all good signs... just no food on this particularly blustery, snowy day.
April 4, 2015 - No food for the horses and needless to say, they are not using a flapping tent in those conditions, either...
While some horses might "look" okay, most are in this condition... with bones prominent and ribs visible, even with their winter coats. Big bellies do not always mean health... they also indicate worm infestation or malnutrition. Only full chemistry work ups will determine just how bad these horses conditions are. April 15, 2015
April 15, 2015.... Laying in nothing but manure piles... the "pasture" or "lot" where these horses must spend all their time is solid waste. When it rains, it's solid slime. Note this little Caspian... see the backbone all the way to the tail? That's NOT normal in any stretch of the imagination.
June 20, 2015 - These pictures were taken from a farm road that adjoins a property leased by the owner for summer pasture. This particular area happens to be behind the pump station (shown above). There are four stallions here now and these pictures tell their story. Winter coats are no longer hiding the bones clearly visible. You further risk a horse's health when you put them directly to grass from hay.
June 20, 2015 - Sorry for the quality of the photo... cell phones vary, but this clearly shows the top line of the same horse that is in the picture above.
June 20, 2015 - Another view of the horses, shows the hips prominent and depression just before ribs indicates that water has been an issue. As in Not Enough...
June 20, 2015 - Another top line photo of one of the other horses shows prominent hips and ribs visible. These horses have clearly not been handled, brushed or cared for in months.
June 20, 2015 - Clearly visible in this photo is the chain link fence that is the eastern border to the pump station where 13 horses are still enclosed inside. The tub is about 1/2 full of water. The mound off in the distance is a bale of hay that still has the plastic covering on it, which creates a toxic condition inside the bale that horses should not be eating. This hay is suitable for cows, but not horses, who's stomachs process food differently than cows. The tangle of hose is how water is brought to the location from a spiget that is about 250 feet away on the owners property.
June 20, 2015 - This is the tent that used to be set up in the pump station along with a little larger one (note the frame that is mangled in the grass). This tent was featured in a picture from last winter and was set up in the pump station as shelter for 10 horses. You might fit two in there... and maybe all four if you packed them in....
NOTE: With the moving of this tent to the field for these four stallions, there are once again NO SHELTERS in the pump station for the horses that are still there. Maine State Animal Law states shelter SHALL be provided for all horses YEAR ROUND. Summer sun, rain and bugs are just as bad as cold temperatures and blizzard conditions, and rob the horses of needed energy to fight off disease.
April 27, 2015 - They are all inquisitive and looking for good food. Note the belly... most likely caused by parasites. Note horse to left - protruding hip and back bone. Also note piles of manure... ground is totally covered and built up around fence line to the height of 8-10 inches.
April 27, 2015 - Some of the Fjords appear to be healthy, but only competent tests by professionals will determine the parasite load each of these horses have been sharing with each other. Note the fences are all broken down and mostly a tangle. Horses are freely going in and out of these areas. They cannot be called pastures. They are more like holding pens.
April 27, 2015 - Uncontrolled breeding is not helping this herd of horses. Cross breeding, more mouths to feed, horrible conditions for birthing on manure laden ground. No extra nutritioinal needs for pregnant mares... how can they, they don't know which ones are pregnant or just have worm bellies...
Continue down the page for pictures of the horses... We are updating information. Please stop back soon for more information.