Sagebrush Ranch horses moving on to happier trails

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Sagebrush Ranch horses moving on to happier trails

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Jul 30, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Less than a week after Contact 13's investigation into Sagebrush Ranch, the horses are moving on to much happier trails.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears accompanied some of them on their journey to a new life and found it's almost like a rags to riches story.

The 36 horses of Sagebrush Ranch were owned by Jacque Fitzgerald until July 15, when Clark County Animal Control impounded them all out of concern for their health and welfare.

All were found by the county to be undernourished and in need of medical attention.

Fitzgerald herself has been cited dozens of times over the last eight years, including citations for running an illegal business and failing to care for and feed the horses.

When we spoke to her in mid-July, she said, "That's the most horrible thing that a horse person can have happen to them, is for people to think that they're cruel. And that is the last thing that I would ever be."

She's facing trial Aug. 4. In the meantime, the county has found homes for 24 of her horses. They rounded up the rest Wednesday morning.

The last 12 Sagebrush Ranch horses will be available for adoption. Unfortunately, animal control said one horse did have to be put down and that's part of the upcoming court case.

The six on their way to WHY Ranch might be the luckiest ones.

White Horse Youth Ranch (WHY) calls itself a safe place for socially challenged children to experience personal healing and growth through horse therapy.

They decided to rescue some of the Sagebrush horses after seeing our story.

"I said let's only get three, maybe four horses. And what ended up happening is I saw them and my heart broke. So we ended up getting six," said WHY Ranch Facilities Manager Curtis Terry. "I just couldn't leave them there. Not in the conditions we saw them in."

Terry said the horses were underweight anywhere from 50-200 pounds.

"A bunch of them have saddle sores, fungus on their backs. Some have fungus on their hooves. So we're treating them for a lot of different ailments."

One white horse named Popsicle is now wearing a long mask because Terry said she was sunburned in the face. He also said she's sensitive to touch because her back is covered in saddle sore scars.

The horses from Sagebrush Ranch have about two months worth of rehabilitation ahead of them before they'll be in good enough condition to work with the kids.

During that time they'll, run, eat, play and roll in the dirt as they're readied for their new lives.

Contact 13 will be in court next week as we follow Jacque Fitzgerald's cases.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.