How We Work

The new mare, Blaire, she is different than all the rest who came before her.

She is an aberration, as it were.

One thing I have considered when I think about what HOP does when juxtaposed to how some rescues work is the difference in where the bulk of the neglected, at risk or abused horses come from that end up in the facilities.

We are different from some in that, while many seem to bring in kill buyer / LOT horses that are frequently quite a distance away from the rescue’s location, we are usually overrun with seizure and owner surrender horses from West Virginia or within a few hours of state border.

For many organizations not plagued with so much local neglect and abuse, the horses that come into their facility will be Horses purchased from broker lots or directly pulled by the rescue from places like New Holland and Sugar Creek.

There are many horses to chose from in these situations, more than all groups together can help, and rescues walk away from the broker page or the auction with the horses they decided they could assist that day. A lot of the time, these horses are somewhat decent shape, though rarely do they look their best. They certainly have been through the ringer, ran through auction and were discarded by someone who certainly didn’t care about them. They need rescue.

This type of rescue leads to a LOT of Social Media activity, though. Most than other types. Often they are pretty horses with nice photos and include riding videos. They are sometimes, depending on the page, said to be surely headed directly to slaughter if not purchased with a marked up price. It creates a frenzy and often a lot of donating, but to be fair, pulling horses from these places costs FAR more than when we drive 20 minutes up the road for a seizure of a starving horse. Granted, our rehab process takes up quite a bit more, as a general rule, than the auction pulls may. But that is the issue. . .

It creates a flurry of support on the pages, donations come in quicker and hundreds or thousands of supporters following the horse from some of these major broker posting pages follow the horses over to each rescue page to continue to watch the journey. It grows the network on the facebook page greatly over time, it grows the donation level and interest in the horses coming in.

What HOP does is different.

Just borne from necessity, not a conscious choice, really.

A horse in need is a horse in need wherever he may be. A horse in reasonable shape is what meat buyers want. They are in real and present danger. An auction horse has endured much and has a hell ahead of him if he DOES go over the border to slaughter.

But we cannot work that way here. We have never pulled from these places and have pulled a handful of horses from auction directly over the years.

This sometimes puts our work and the horses we save behind the 8 Ball.


This impoverish area is full of horses down every back road in need. Bags of bones on every county road here that no meat buyer would pay a mind to, they are worthless in this condition. . .

I see so much of it, I feel swallowed up in the sadness and hopelessness sometimes.

It isn’t like the posts I’ll see on these huge broker pages where you see an album of horses were people are scrambling to save, save and save. . .and at the end you see a POST that says all the horses have been sold.

Here. . . no one knows their stories, sees their photos and videos, and they die in tied out back behind someone’s trailer because they have no voice, no compelling photo and no story.

At Every turn. I CAN go no where, cannot look on down any road or even on the local craigslist ads without being bombarded by those that will not ever see a post that says: All Horses Sold. Thank You.

We usually take what lands at our doorstep. You see them if you’re on this page. You know.

We do not always see anything before Animal control brings in or what someone begs us to come pick up.

There isn’t much notice, there is just a pick up and figure it out after situation.

Why does this create a difference? Because time is of the essence. We can’t wait around, fundraise and generate interest with some vague description we have.

Starving horses do not pretty pictures make. Death by starvation seems less scary to the world at large, I suppose, than a trip over the border. Nevermind that death by starvation can take 10 years to play out.

Once we post about a horse, the horse is typically already here with us, safe. And folks think: “That horse is already safe. No need to donate or share or worry about that one.” But that is just where the journey starts.

Can you see how that puts the work we do at a disadvantage? As if being in possibly the poorest area in the USA trying to help horses does not put us climbing a never ending mountain side.

I am thankful many places in the country are not in the situation we are here where they have to overlook the horses in the major stockyard and broker pens that certainly need help because they are drowning in horses neglect and abuse in their own area.

I am thankful others can address the very sad issue of the horse that has a chance of heading to the meat buyer. . . they needed a voice. And They have voices.

I feel the ones hidden in the hollows of Appalachia suffering not for weeks but years on end through winter after winter DO NOT have much of a voice.

That is who we are here. Not really the voice of the auction horse but a voice for the Appalachian horse.

With most of the horses we help. . .there is rarely a question of their fate. They are assured an end where they slowly starve until they are dead.

End of Story.

And Blaire was the aberration today as she stood in some type of lot said to sell for slaughter. I didn’t look much into it. A person asked us to help her. She is in reasonably good shape, a pretty mare, in fact. We saw her video being ridden by a rough sort of person on the facebook page. We saw a hopeless look in the eye of the pretty horse standing there in decent shape many hours away.

So we did something strange for us and told the woman working to get her safe that we would accept her if she could manage to get her here.

She did that, and I have to tell you, a save is save.

I felt no less happy to see that mare standing in her foster barn than I have felt for those in much worse shape because behind that pretty exterior there is still a sadness that WE must undo. A hopeless, sad spirit that needed what we can offer.

We have no plans to work differently than we currently do here. . .filling a most urgent, desperate need in Appalachia, but for this one time, we are surely glad we could be there for this different type of rescue.

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