Animal rights activists say the Queensland government isn't doing enough to prevent eight horses, surrounded by the carcasses and skeletons of about 35 others, from starving to death.
Among the survivors is ex-racehorse Flagflamenco, an animal still listed as active by Racing Australia.
But the horse is so emaciated she is struggling to walk, says Animal Liberation Queensland executive director Chay Neal.
The concerns about the horses on a property at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, come as the state government considers the recommendations of a probe into the treatment of retired racehorses.
Flagflamenco and another horse are in such bad condition they needed close supervision, Mr Neal told AAP after checking on the animals on Wednesday.
He asked why the state government had not already seized the animals or prosecuted the owner.
With 17 bodies and at least ten skeletons on the property, there must have been a "high level of neglect" over a long time.
A Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said that since inspectors visited the property, the owner had been following a direction regarding their care and feeding.
"While the recovery process will take some time, we are pleased to report the horses are gaining strength and are better able to deal with all weather conditions," the spokesperson said.
But Australian Farm Animal Rescue Matters founder Marjorie Pagani says volunteers are feeding the horses twice a day and treating their wounds to try and keep them alive.
She accuses Biosecurity Queensland of failing to do enough, asking how many horses must die before the rest would be seized.
"If ever there was a case to remove animals, this is the case," she said.
The Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said further comment was inappropriate as it could compromise an active investigation.
A spokesperson for Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed the government had received a report from an inquiry ordered in October after a scandal surrounding retired racehorses being mistreated before being slaughtered at an abattoir north of Brisbane.
The recommendations in the report, due by Friday, were being considered.
The probe was ordered to look at potential changes to the tracking and welfare of retired horses, the horse meat processing industry and models in other states.
Announcing the inquiry, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was needed to provide Queenslanders with confidence that the racing industry was doing everything possible to ensure the welfare of horses.
"Animal welfare is everybody's responsibility and my government will not stand for cruelty to animals," she said.
Australian Associated Press