At least 49 thoroughbred horses meant for racing, but left starving to death, have been rescued from a breeding farm in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

While it is not exactly clear why they were left starving, a timely tip-off proved fortunate for the horses. Six horses had died, but the others were alive though totally emaciated, said media reports. Four were in serious condition.

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Reports quoting a spokesperson for the animal rights group, Frendicoes, which rescued the horses said they were emaciated with wounds on their bodies. Many were barely able to stand as they were weak and suffered dehydration.

The owner is reportedly missing and farm hands said they had not been paid their salaries for a year, the reports said. The starving horses would need special care to ensure they survived, said the reports, quoting the rights group. Apparently, the animals had been abandoned for a while and had not eaten in a long time. They were in dire straits.

The rescue group rushed to the farm and comprised vets and other support staff. Once they reached the spot, transportation was organised and after rehydration for a day they were taken to Gurgaon, adjoining the capital New Delhi. “We did not have the heart to leave them there," Geetha Seshamani, vice-president of Frendicoes, told the media.

"They said initially the horses ate the straw on which they stood, then they started eating their own dung, but for the past few weeks, they had nothing to eat," Seshamani was quoted as saying.

Though they have been rescued on time, it will take a while before they fully recover and regain their full strength, the reports said.

Having rescued them, Frendicoes is now scouting for land and facilities to take care of them until they fully recover, the reports said.