To our surprise, once at West Coast Equine Hpspital, we learned that other than missing his lower jaw, the molars in the back of his mouth were otherwise fine, only requiring a light power float of his teeth. This means there was no reason for his extreme emaciation, other than a lack of food!
On top of that, Dr. Sullivan states he is only around 5 years old -- anything but elderly! -- again negating any reasonable excuses for this pony's condition, other than criminal neglect.
Per vet instructions, Mikey is fully capable of living on a diet of hay, not requiring mashed food for pellets. This is because the molars in the back of his mouth, where his jaw is still intact, are all that's required to masticate his food. The front incisors are mostly for tearing off food, such as grazing.
Dr. Sullivan does not believe Mikey was born with an incomplete jaw, but it was likely surgically removed at some point. Backyard surgical procedures performed with standard garage tools is quite common in poorer communities. Rather than deal with the complexities of healing a fractured jaw, it would be easier to just remove it with a blunt tool...horrifying to imagine, let alone do.
The little guy is now fully on the road to recovery, with all the "necessities" -- tooth float, farrier, vaccinations, deworming -- taken care of. Now it's time to eat, eat, and eat!
Mikey is a chipper little guy, and has a sweet pony-sized nicker when horses pass him by. We'll never know what exact hell he endured. But we do know only peace, love and tranquility lay ahead of him.
Thank you to everyone who donated to Mikey, we have done so much for him in just a few days. We would also like to thank Trinity Horse Refuge, who have offered to take him into their sanctuary. Arrangements are being made to take Mikey to their rescue in Northern California, a trip that thanks to a very kind hauler, will only cost us $300 in fuel to make.