Kentucky law enforcement authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the apparent abandonment of more than 40 horses in Mercer County.

Rusty Ford, equine programs manager for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said the agency received a call about missing horses on June 2. On June 3, Deputy State Veterinarian Bradley Keough, DVM, followed up on that call and discovered 43 horses, mostly Thoroughbreds, residing in Mercer County pasture, Ford said. Keough determined that the horses “met the requirements” for being abandoned, he added.

Of the 43 horses, six were determined to be in need of “elevated” care, said Ford. Those horses were relocated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington on June 28, he said.

“One horse scored less than 3 on the (nine-point) Henneke Body Condition Scale,” he said. “Also, in addition to being undernourished, another horse had other (veterinary) issues.”

Meanwhile, the 37 horses remaining on the property have been cleared for relocation, Ford said.

“We always look for a relocation situation that is best for the horse,” Ford said.

Currently, the investigation remains ongoing, no one has been charged in connection with the horses’ apparent abandonment. The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department referred questions about the case to Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean, who was unavailable for comment.

While the investigation continues, Ford said volunteers who h