It's a long way back from being partially starved to being a well-groomed 850-pound specimen on the verge of greatness.
That, however, is the arc of life so far for a four-year-old Arabian stallion named Merllinn, once owned by Rick Hill of rural Decatur and a victim of neglect on Hill's property west of Decatur.
Merllinn is now owned by Bill Miller of rural Decatur, a knowledgeable horse fancier and trainer who has nine of the formerly emaciated horses that were taken from Hill by court order in 2009 due to lack of food.
Miller says Merllinn, born at Hill's horse farm, was not one of the worst cases when he got him, but was considerably underweight.
Now filled out and in excellent condition, Miller says Merllinn will soon be a father for the first time.
He recently entered Merllinn in an all-Arabian horse show at Rochester, Indiana, and won several awards, the highest being Reserve Grand Champion in the halter class. Miller says one of the judges told him that if Merllinn had been a little better behaved, he could have been the grand champ.
Miller says Merllinn is a young animal, since Arabian horses usually live and breed well into their 30s, so he has high hopes for Merllinn's performances in future shows.
Miller also reported that a 19-year-old mustang mare, called Sally after the well-known song "Mustang Sally," has been released into the wild at a large area in southern Indiana to roam freely with other mustangs. Sally was another of the horses that Hill had owned.
Hill was ordered to prison last week for violating terms of his probation.