Horse rescue agencies are taking in a record number of horses in recent months after the dramatic price increase for hay.
The U.S. Equine Rescue league normally takes in about 100 abused or neglected horses each year in three states.
This year, the agency already has 170 horses from the states -- including 90 horses from North Carolina.
Other states are facing similar drought-related problems.
Equine cruelty investigator Kathy Grant said the rural roads in her eastern Tennessee community are lined with pastures dotted with emaciated horses.
She said a round bale of hay that cost $12 this summer now costs $100.
In South Carolina, rescue volunteers said bale prices have tripled.