Some miniature horses got a new lease on life thanks to their adoptive owners.

Twelve miniature horses and two donkeys were seized from the property of Tony and Nita Norman, located at the corner of Highway 16 and Rocky Mound Road. The Normans were served a seizure warrant Aug. 13 by the Young County Sheriff’s Department after an ongoing investigation, and relinquished ownership of their livestock Aug. 23. According to the Burnham Veterinary Hospital report, the minis and donkeys were malnourished, scoring a 2 or 3 on the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System. The scoring system measures the health of a horse, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being excessively fat. The report stated that the mini horses and donkeys were very thin with faintly discernible bone structures, prominent ribs and spines, protruding hip bones and accentuated necks and tailbones and had excessively long hooves.

The Normans agreed to forfeit ownership of all of the equine animals at the court hearing Aug. 23. Locals stood up for the livestock at the hearing, and included Pooch and Beverly Williams of Fort Belknap, Coy and Kay Willis and Glenn and Glenda Whitely, all of Graham, to name a few. The Wilbarger Humane Society, who also works with the Young County Sheriff’s Department, was awarded custody of seven miniature horses and the donkeys that were owner-surrendered. Five of the miniature horses were released to their owner, Marie Bartlett of Oklahoma, who originally loaned the horses to the Normans in hopes of producing more horses. The Whitelys have housed and cared for the livestock on their available property as they wait for adoption, and the Williams’ provided hay for the livestock.

“The 12 ponies and two donkeys fit in one small horse trailer, they were that tiny,” Glenda Whitely said. “Tears came to my eyes, and I’m a pretty hard lady. Their little bellies were swollen, their hooves hadn’t been trimmed in forever. The minute they got out of the trailer they were eating the hay. Now, they’re just fat and happy and just absolutely different horses. There are four of them left.”

Three of the horses have been adopted out by Brittany and Shawn O’Dell of Woodson, Tracy and Dr. Neil Fambro, DVM., and Walter and Deborah Harrison, all of Breckenridge.

“He was in poor shape, and I don’t know how long he would have gone (without proper care),” said Neil Fambro of their dwarf miniature horse, Big John. “He only weighed 60 pounds. He weighs about 150 now. He’s done well with the care.”