My goodness that's awful! Poor guy! I'm so glad your friend was able to get him!
Where I lived in TN there was a small house across the road from us that had a pasture that was about the size of a singlewide with 3 15hh quarter horses in it. The pasture was dirt and rock and they would dump a mouldy round bale in the field with no shelter, a small water trough and no other feed. In the year and a half I lived across from them, I asked them several times if I could buy the horses. They wanted $1000 a piece for them, but they looked like walking skeletal anatomy lessons, had never been vetted, never had a farrier, never been haltered let alone ridden.
Hundreds of people complained to the county, the humane society, anyone that would listen. Nothing was ever done because "they are first time horse owners." Yuh, hogwash.