SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Sevierville attraction is under investigation and facing scrutiny after photos of horses were posted to social media.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture launched the investigation regarding the Jayell Ranch Family Adventure Park. The investigation comes after public concern over photos posted online of horses in possible unhealthy conditions.

Savannah Holt worked at Jayell Ranch as a trail guide from 2020-2021.

“Horses work minimum 12 hour days, if not longer than that. They had a weight limit of 300 pounds, which I’ve come to learn is way more than any other riding stable,” Holt said.

She said it seems the conditions have only worsened since she left.

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“Now, they don’t even have a farrier, they don’t have anybody trimming those horses feet or putting shoes on their feet. Their path is gravel now, so walking on gravel is absolute agony for them,” she explained.

In response to the photos, Jayell Ranch released a statement claiming that the images were “misleading.”

“These photographs provide a limited glimpse of our horse population, showcasing only a fraction of these majestic creatures. Among the equines depicted in these images, a notable portion shows horses in their advanced years, displaying evident markers of aging in their physical features, much akin to humans.”

Holt said the condition of the ranch’s barn put the animals in danger.

“There was one named Honey, we were just waiting any day for her to break her ankle, we were waiting on it because she fell so often it was a common occurrence. It happened at least 2-3 times a week, she just fell down the stairs because they’re slick, there’s no really good mats on those stairs and when the horses pee and stuff, it just creates a big slick mess,” she said.

Jayell Ranch continued in their statement, “The journey of rehabilitation is a gradual process, and some of the pictures of horses at our ranch feature these horses at the start of their treatment under our care.”

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See their full statement below:

Holt believes that immediate action needs to be taken.

“The biggest thing that needs to happen, they need to at least, if not forever, temporarily shut down, because they’re not. They’re still riding, they’re still going,” she said.

More from reporter Ella Wales

    The ranch also told WATE that agriculture officials visited its facilities Tuesday, and it’s the ranch’s understanding that they plan to return on Friday.