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Success Stories

Meet Horses Helped by the Kentucky Humane Society 

The Kentucky Humane Society's Equine Programs staff and partners are working every day to help save and improve the lives of horses in Kentucky. Read about just a few of our recent success stories.


Lil' Orphan Abner

abner web

You can't tell by looking at him now, but this beautiful thoroughbred Abner had a rough start in life. Abner came to us like so many other orphaned foals: his mother had severe birthing complications and the owners needed immediate assistance to save the baby. The very next day our Equine C.A.R.E. crew arrived to rescue Abner and transfered him to one of our KHS Equine rescue partners, Dark Horse Training Center.

Several challenges were still ahead for baby Abner, as he needed an immediate plasma transfusion and was faced with other medical issues requiring constant monitoring. Abner needed milk replacer four times daily, with the help of our KHS volunteers, Abner received the care and attention that is desperately needed when a baby is orphaned at such a young age. He started adjusting to life on a farm by interacting with people, other pets (several KHS adopted cats and dogs are on site) and learning some life lessons from the other horses. Acclimating the horse to a farm is a critically important step in KHS’s Equine C.A.R.E. Program and gives the horses a great shot at adoption.

Lucky for Abner he didn’t have to wait long to find a home. Brett and Mary Rose from Dark Horse decided to adopt Abner as a wedding present to themselves!

Fast forward to now, and Abner couldn’t be happier. He’s well adjusted and enjoying life at Dark Horse Training Center. The farm sits sits on over 100 rollings acres in central Kentucky, and is still assisting KHS Equine in fostering and placing homes for other rescued horses. You can help too by spreading the word about our equine services, and in doing so, you can help us find homes for so many horses in need of permanent families.



olive before web

olive ribs webDuring a herd inventory project on a reclaimed mountain top in Breathitt County this spring, the Equine C.A.R.E. Team discovered Olive, a 10- to 12-year-old Kentucky Mountain Horse in terrible shape. The mare was severely emaciated and sick from a respiratory infection. She was so desperate for nutrition that she was eating bark from an olive tree, hence the team named her Olive.

The KHS team knew they couldn’t leave this horse to die by herself on the mountain. They worked with local authorities to get her into a temporary foster home for her 15-day stray-hold period. But the veterinarian who examined her said she would not survive the stray hold without immediate medical intervention.

Our team quickly mobilized and brought her to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, a bacterial infection and heaves, which is similar to asthma. Olive spent almost a week at the hospital receiving intravenous drugs and nebulizer treatments.
Olive is now recovering at the KHS Equine C.A.R.E. Rescue Barn, where she is being fed three times a day to help her gain weight and strength. While her road to recovery is still very long, we are optimistic that Olive will make a full recovery.

olive treatment web


Rose before

When the Kentucky Humane Society received the cattle rancher’s call in March, he was desperate. A free-roaming horse was literally eating his livelihood – his cattle’s hay – before his very eyes.

The paint chestnut mare had been spotted a few days after snow and torrential rains hit Breathitt County in Eastern Kentucky. She had escaped the flat strip mine and made her way down a treacherous mountainside to forage on the tender shoots of the hay field below. Now the horse were literally trapped between the rising river, which paralleled the road, and the steep mud-slick mountain.

With no way across and no way back up, the rancher was willing to take desperate – and lethal – measures to rid his property of the horse, unless we could help.

Our KHS Equine Team responded quickly. Rose let a KHS staffer halter her and lead her up the steep trail to safety. Due to Rose’s condition, she was taken into our care. A veterinary examination indicated loss of a foal and lingering complications. She was very thin and suffered from mouth and eye infections, due in part to her weakened, wormed-riddled body and poor immune condition. Despite her condition, she had the sweet and gentle personality of her namesake, Rose.

After a few months in our care, Rose was adopted. She is now being trained to be a therapy horse to work with children with special needs and veterans with PTSD.


Rideable rose web



Poppy-afterIn March 2014 the KHS Equine C.A.R.E. Team participated in a project to determine how many free-roaming horses there might be in five eastern Kentucky counties. On a foggy morning, a severely emaciated chestnut mare was spotted. KHS received permission to transport her to a rescue agency for medical assessment. The assessment determined that the mare was close to death. Our partner agency, the Kentucky Equine Humane Center (KyEHC), agreed to help the horse, named Poppy.

At the shelter, the veterinary team discovered that Poppy was not only horribly emaciated, but she also had a severe heart murmur. Poppy's rehabilitation began, with plans that she could only be adopted as a pasture pet since her heart couldn't handle the stress of carrying a rider. After several months at the KyEHC facility, Poppy gained weight, perked up and received another health assessment. The veterinarian and the staff at the shelter were amazed to discover that Poppy's heart murmur was gone! With proper nutrition the defect was repaired, and she received a clean bill of health. The time came to assess her training and it was clear that she was saddled trained and very gentle. Poppy was adopted soon after and now has the love, kindness and attention she deserves. More importantly, she will never again have to feel the severe hunger pains she experienced before KHS intervened.



Cheyenne on reclamation site eastern KY

Jigsaw was born on a mountain top in Eastern Kentucky and had never been handled by humans until he was brought to KHS at about 10 months old. He was essentially feral and very wary of humans. It took several weeks to gain his trust and get a halter on him to start his training.

Even though Jigsaw made good progress in his training, human touch was still new to him and made him nervous. He needed his own special person to provide the love and consistency to make up for his rough start in life.

jigsaw-adoptedThat was when he met Christy in December. Christy had recently experienced a tremendous loss in her life. Her husband had died in an accident just weeks before, and she was working through her grief and the healing process by spending time at Dark Horse Training Center. According to Christy, “Being around horses is the only thing that makes me forget the pain for a little while and gives me purpose."

The holidays were approaching, and her family knew it would be a tough time for Christy. Her mother heard about Jigsaw and intuitively felt he and Christy would be good therapy for each other. With a little help from some friends, Jigsaw was waiting in a stall when Christy arrived to spend time with the horses on Christmas Day. The meeting was emotional and touching, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

"I'll never forget this moment," wrote Christy. "I didn't think anything could make me smile on Christmas Day this year. I'm a lucky girl to have such amazing people in my life. This sweet boy is helping me in ways nothing else possibly can."

Christy is continuing Jigsaw's training at Dark Horse Training Center and, more importantly, giving him the attention and consistency he needs to know he can trust humans. Christy continues to heal and Jigsaw helps her through the tough days. They are there for each other.

"I can't thank everyone involved with rescuing him enough. This little guy is saving me as much as I'm helping him. I'm honored to be the person to make Jigsaw feel safe!"


Nellie & Piper


foal-and-mareNellie (shown above and below with her foal, Piper) was one of 27 stray horses rounded up in Knott County KY because they were in the roadway. The horses were living on a coal reclamation site but had worked their way down the mountain in search of food and salt. Because it was winter, the roads had been salted, and the horses were licking the salt off the road. While being held by local animal control, it was discovered that Nellie was pregnant. Once released from animal control, KHS arranged for her to be fostered until the baby was born. A few months later, a beautiful female foal was born. Both Nellie and her baby, Piper, were adopted and are doing well in their new homes (shown at right).


Jasmine & Echo


Jasmine was rounded up with Nellie and more than two dozen other horses in Knott County KY. Like Nellie, Jasmine was pregnant. KHS arranged for Jasmine to be transported to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. At the center, Jasmine gave birth to a filly, Echo, and both have since been adopted.




Buckeye was born on a nurse mare farm and lost his mom when he was just three months old. Because he had lived in a field and was never handled by humans, Buckeye was terrified of those trying to help him. After finally arriving in foster, a volunteer skilled in natural horsemanship training started working with the young horse. The two spent a lot of time together and Buckeye learned to trust humans. Buckeye was later adopted by a woman who was looking for a young horse to train and travel with her as she conducted horse training clinics around the country. Buckeye is thriving in his new home.


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