Cis Kemp calls the two starving horses Hope and Courage, but Skin and Bones better describes the animals that she found wandering Tuesday night near her Fish Springs ranch.
"I've been around animals all my life and I've never seen horses this bad," she said. "You look at the wild mustangs and they're fat and healthy. Somebody let this happen to these horses."
The story of Hope and Courage began Tuesday night when Kemp's brother, on his way home from dinner at her house, came back and said, "You better grab the halters and get the truck."
She followed her brother and said the sorrel mare and red roan gelding "were staggering down the road."
"I walked right up and caught them and brought them home," Kemp said.
She and her daughter Courtney think the horses are about 9 years old. One has a primitive mark, but Nevada Brand Inspector Wally Adams, at Kemp's on Thursday, wasn't familiar with the brand.
By law, Adams must take the animals to Fallon for the estray sale, and Kemp is hoping to build them up before they leave the sanctuary her place has provided.
She waited 24 hours before she named the horses because she wasn't sure they would live.
"I started feeding them right away, but very small amounts," she said. "They're eating everything. When I came out Wednesday morning and they were still standing, I named the mare Hope and the gelding Courage."
Kemp contacted Douglas County Animal Services Supervisor Janet Duzan who visited the horses on Thursday.
She agrees with Kemp that the animals probably were taken by trailer to Fish Springs and dumped.
"They got a double whammy," Duzan said. "First they were starved, then abandoned. There is no question they have been neglected."
She said the owners could face animal cruelty charges, but it would be difficult to prove.
"If we have enough information, we definitely would pursue it," Duzan said.
Kemp isn't optimistic the owners will be identified.
"It would surprise me to death if somebody claims them," she said.
Kemp is delighted by every small victory.
"They are both standing and eating!" Kemp wrote Friday in an e-mail.
"Last night, I gave them a hot bran mash at 11 p.m., and when they saw me coming they tried to nicker at me. Music to my ears.
"I'm still feeding them small amounts every 3 to 4 hours. I'm trying to get a farrier to come and pull the shoe off of Hope's front foot and trim it back a bit. This is a very big problem for her."
It's easy to see how neglected Hope and Courage are compared to Kemp's four horses.
As the price of hay increases, Kemp thinks more animals will be malnourished and abandoned.
"People need to really think twice before getting a horse," she said. "They buy a horse for themselves or their children and think, 'Yahoo! I'm a cowboy.'
"Then the novelty wears off and they're no longer interested in the time and expense it takes to care for a horse, and this is what happens. I think in these times, this is just the tip of the iceberg."