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Abused Utah horse making miracle recovery after being frozen to the ground

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  • One-year-old horse Elsa found hours from death with infected eye in Utah on Thursday
  • A passerby noticed Elsa and her malnourished mother, Anna, were suffering
  • The animals were rescued and are recovering at Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses near Cedar City
  • The horses were named after characters from the Disney movie 'Frozen'
  • The Enoch City owner has received a citation for two counts of animal cruelty

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:41 EST, 8 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 EST, 8 January 2014

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A young horse found frozen to the ground in a patch of mud and her starving mother are making a miracle recovery after being rescued last week.

The one-year-old horse, Elsa, was hours from death when she was pried from the frigid floor in an Enoch City yard on Thursday, in what veterinarians have described as one of Utah's worst cases of animal neglect.

The yearling was suffering from hypothermia with sores on the side of her face and an eye infection from prolonged contact with the frozen ground.

Elsa

Horrific: Elsa, a one-year-old horse, was found emaciated and frozen to the ground in a Enoch City, Utah corral on Thursday

Horrific: Elsa, a one-year-old horse, was found emaciated and frozen to the ground in a Enoch City, Utah corral on Thursday

'This is absolutely one of the worst cases in my career,' Enoch City animal control officer Chris Johnson told KUTV.com.

'When I got there she was laying in the mud. She had been starved. She had no strength from lack of nutrition.

'(The ground) was completely frozen. When we rolled her over you could see the indent was still there and the ice and ground wasn't moving.'

The filly and her mother, Anna, were rescued from their corral after a concerned passerby saw the dangerously thin horses and called emergency services.

Elsa

Heartbreaking: Volunteers have taken turns looking after Elsa, including Joe Kertiss (pictured)

Heartbreaking: Volunteers have taken turns looking after Elsa, including Joe Kertiss (pictured)

Elsa
Elsa

Volunteers at the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses: Mel Bryant fashioned a sling to help move emaciated Elsa (left), while volunteer Joe Kertiss comforts the struggling filly (right)

Helpers: Volunteers have worked around the clock to nurse little Elsa back to health and even help her to her feet

Helpers: Volunteers have worked around the clock to nurse little Elsa back to health and even help her to her feet

Recovering: Elsa was so weak she needed to be propped upright and swaddled in blankets at the sanctuary

Recovering: Elsa was so weak she needed to be propped upright and swaddled in blankets at the sanctuary

The abused creatures were treated with antibiotics and warm fluids before being rushed to the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses, south of Cedar City.

Sanctuary founder Ginger Grimes said a 'body imprint where you can see every hair strand' remains where Elsa lay for 'quite some time'. 

Grimes and other volunteers at the charity have worked around the clock to nurse the horses back to health. The horses had been starved for so long, they had no strength.

Grimes said Elsa was only given a 20 percent chance of survival, but that has increased to 80 percent. But she said she could lose her sight in the infected eye.

'I really see a lot of improvement,' Grimes said. 'I'm exhausted but I'm excited.'

Anna

Starving: Anna, Elsa's mother, was found malnourished on Thursday

Starving: Anna, Elsa's mother, was found malnourished on Thursday

On the mend: Anna, the mother, is recovering well after she was found starving in her Utah corral

On the mend: Anna, the mother, is recovering well after she was found starving in her Utah corral

Grimes said both horses - named after the characters in the Disney movie 'Frozen' - are improving daily.

Volunteers still have to lift Elsa’s head to get her into a sitting position to drink, but she is growing stronger and is able to stand. While most yearlings usually weigh about 800 pounds, Elsa is only about 400 pounds.

'Once (Elsa) was up, she didn’t want to lay down,' Grimes told The Salt Lake Tribune. 'We brought her mom in to see her, and they were rubbing each others’ noses.'

Elsa

Underweight: Elsa weighs just 400 pounds, half the normal weight of other horses her age

Underweight: Elsa weighs just 400 pounds, half the normal weight of other horses her age

Elsa
Elsa

Tender moment: Ginger Grimes snuggles with Elsa (right) at Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary

Grimes said Anna is recovering well.

Meanwhile, the horses' owner, an Enoch City man, has been issued with a citation for two counts of animal cruelty, a class 'B' misdemeanor, according KUTV.com.

'Very unfortunate situation,' Enoch Police Chief Jackson Ames said.

Follow Anna and Elsa's progress at the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses Facebook page.

Elsa

Gorgeous: Elsa almost looks peaceful as she lays beneath a heat lamp, on a bed of straw, swaddled in blankets for warmth

Gorgeous: Elsa almost looks peaceful as she lays beneath a heat lamp, on a bed of straw, swaddled in blankets for warmth

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