After years of hard work towing tourists through historic Philadelphia, eight horses that belonged to the Philadelphia Carriage Co. are getting the retirement they earned.

The company, which had drawn city attention for numerous code violations at its stables and concerns over the poor condition of the horses, ceased operations Jan. 1 under a consent decree with the city. That leaves just one stable, 76 Carriage Co., operating horse-drawn carriage tours in the city.

The horses were transferred Saturday to Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, a 139-acre farm in Mount Airy, Md., that, according to the city, has assumed all financial responsibility for the horses. Two more horses will arrive this week.

Christine Hajek, the director of the sanctuary, confirmed the arrival of the horses and said the sanctuary would invest about $1,000 in routine care for each horse before determining whether to offer them for adoption or allow them to retire at Gentle Giants. She said the horses did not appear to have been maltreated.

"All of the horses are in excellent condition," she said. "They are at the perfect weight. They have lovely hoof care. No part of this case revolved around the neglect of the horses."

Previously, inspectors from the Animal Care and Control Team, which investigates violations of the city's animal-welfare code, reported that the horses appeared malnourished and filthy, that at least one was lame and that another suffered from a respiratory condition likely caused by poor ventilation in the stable.