"I am an option for these old horses, ones with disabilities, amputated horses, or one-eyed horses that nobody wants to take for adoption," Melantoni told Reuters. "They stay with me from the moment they arrive until they pass."

Located in Buenos Aires province, the "Let's Dream of Hope" refuge provides a place for horses that have no other home, she explained, adding that many had suffered terrible cruelty.

One horse, Baco, was found malnourished and injured. "From exhaustion he ended up falling into a ditch and the alleged owners hit him and broke his spine", said Melantoni, who works in the judiciary during the week.

"We see human cruelty daily," she said, adding though that being able to help the horse live out their life in some comfort was personally rewarding.

"I wait the whole week to come and see them," Melantoni said. "I wait for it all the time. Arriving here and smelling them, hugging them, kissing the. And then, I can leave calm and happy and I say: that's it, that made my week."

(Reporting by Horacio Soria; Writing by Natalia Siniawski, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

By Horacio Soria