by Julie Hauserman
Tennessee horse enthusiasts Ron Smith and Mary Hord say their hearts were profoundly touched in 2009, when they volunteered to care for 84 horses rescued from lives of horrific neglect.
The horses were nearly starved to death when the Humane Society of the United States and the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department rescued them from a 100-acre farm. Smith, a credit union president, and Hord, who runs Almost Home animal rescue, were part of a group of volunteers who provided badly needed horse care at a temporary shelter in Nashville after the owner relinquished the animals.
Two years later, the care shown by Smith, Hord, and some of the other volunteers has grown into something bigger. They formed a new group, Reaching Equines In Need (REIN), which aims to help horse owners who are struggling financially. REIN provides free hay, horse care classes, and other resources.
“My hope is that we can help good people in times of need keep their horses, and not have to give them up to rescue organizations or send them to auctions,” Hord said.
Last fall, REIN held its first equine event and fundraiser at Tennessee State Fairgrounds, the same place where the rescued horses had been sheltered the year before. People who had adopted horses from the rescue brought their animals back for a reunion—and this time, the horses arrived with loving adoptive families and renewed health.
“After the rescue, a bunch of us became friends,” says Smith, who adopted a horse named Ginger from the rescue. “On the one-year anniversary, we wanted to bring back some of the horses who had been in the rescue. Then we started thinking – you know, we can do something to help other horse owners – especially people who have lost their jobs. We can help feed their horses. Our organization will help those owners.”
REIN is focusing its efforts for now on the five counties around Nashville, but hopes to expand statewide eventually.
This winter has been a cold one in Tennessee, Smith and Hord say, and that means horses need to eat more hay. REIN’s free hay has been welcome, especially with high unemployment in the state.
“Our rescue brought a group of like-minded people together, and they’ve been able to go on and turn a bad situation into something that will help horses in Tennessee for years to come,” said HSUS Tennessee State Director Leighann McCollum.
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