Workers at an Oklahoma rescue centre are appealing for donations to raise funds for a group of horses they rescued from starvation in December 2001.

Blaze Tribute Equine Rescue was set up by Shawn and Natalie Cross to provide short-term care for neglected horses.

The couple agreed to take in 20horses that had been abandoned in a field in McClain County, Oklahoma, USA, and look after them until their owner could be traced.

They were all found to be in an appalling condition. Pitifully thin, their ribs protruded through their bare coats that were infected with parasites.

Neighbours from the surrounding area told Shawn and Natalee how relieved they were that something was finally being done to help the animals.

Five days after being transported to the Cross’s premises, one of the yearlings died. However, the remaining 19 horses have all made good recoveries and one mare, a miniature paint, even gave birth to a healthy foal last April.

Of the 20 horses seized, 12 were signed over to the couple who havemanaged to re-home eight of them.

The Crosses estimate that the remaining horses cost them around a $100 a week to care for, in addition to this they have already paid more than $1,500 in vet fees.

They have even had to pay for West Nile vaccines out of their own pockets as the donations they have received have simply not been enough to cover the cost.

Natalee Cross told NewsOK.com: “I don’t want to risk the horses losing even a pound of what they have now gained back. Times are tough right now especially with it being winter, and we are desperate to keep these guys’ bellies full.”

Donations for the Blaze Tribute Equine Rescue, can be sent care of Volunteers for Animal Welfare, P.O.Box 20061, Oklahoma City, OK73156.