Morgan and Clayton Hoffman clung to the wooden fence, petting Daisy and Sassy as the horses nuzzled them in return.
There was a lot of TLC going in the front yard of the family’s seven-acre spread.
Cora Hoffman, the children’s mother, and Camille Sarppraicone, a neighbor and owner of Splendid Bay Farms, looked on.
“My kids are growing very attached to them,” Hoffman said. “The happy ending would be they stay here.”
If only it were that easy.
“The horses need a lot of attention,” Sarppraicone said. “They’re doing better today, but they need lots of love and attention.”
Which is why Daisy, a 7-year-old quarter horse mare, and Sassy, her 11-month-old filly, came into her possession.
About 2 1/2 years ago, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office seized 27 starving horses in Palmetto and Sarppraicone helped place 12 of them -- Daisy included.
Little did she know the mare would be back in her care in December.
The man Daisy was placed with had her for two years, but went through a divorce and lost his job and wasn’t able to care for the horses.
So Sarppraicone took her back -- and her filly.
“She’s had rotten luck,” Sarppraicone said.
Maybe it’s changing.
The Hoffmans are putting up the horses temporarily until Sarppraicone can get them situated.
“The horses were so bad,” Hoffman said. “When you saw them, you couldn’t say no. They looked pitiful.”
Her daughter’s heart went out to them.
“You could see Daisy’s butt bones and ribs, and the baby was so skinny,” said Morgan, 9. “But I can tell the improvement.”
“They’ve gotten fatter,” said Clayton, 7.
Sarppraicone and other Pomelo Ranches neighbors have rustled up plenty of grain and hay, but Daisy needs a lot more weight.
Sarppraicone said the mare should be between 1,200 to 1,300 pounds.
Daisy’s estimated weight is about 800.
As for Sassy, Sarppraicone fears she will remain stunted because of her lack of nourishment the past 11 months. She’s still nursing, too.
“She should’ve been weaned by four months and she’s still taking nutrients from mom, which wears on her,” she said.
They’ll be separated, but not too soon.
“I just don’t want to cause any more stress to their lives,” Sarppraicone said. “As soon as I feel she’s OK, I’ll be taking the mom over to my barn and give her a stall. The baby will stay where she is and we’ll care for her there.
“We want to be absolutely sure both are healthy enough to be adopted out again.”
That could be another six to eight months.
“We have to take it nice and slow,” Sarppraicone said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.