Abandoned and Managed Mine Land Horses of Southern West Virginia

Ten years ago, I first heard.. . .

wait, we have a story now, don’t we?

Before I tell it, I know that number comes up so often in my stories. . .a decade makes a tale better, doesn’t it?

Ten years has started a million (well, nearly) tragic stories of mine, but this isn’t my tale, alone. . .


A decade ago, I heard of a gruesome situation in West Virginia for horses. It took two more years before I’d actually see it.

The rescue didn’t even exist then, initially.

Abandoned and active mine land was covered in abandoned and managed (poorly) horses, mules and ponies. Numbers from land assessors ran as high as 2k in one small region.

Many were dropped off, some had “owners” who turned them out or claimed them all while using land illegally and dangerously and not providing any or enough care.They were reproducing across these lands.

They were injured, emaciated and reproducing. Few thrived, and almost none did well for long.

People were shooting them for sport, chasing them on ATVs, they were being hit on road ways, they were falling into mining locations, they were starving because the re-claimed land and active mine lands weren’t growing anything nutrient dense, and no one knew this was happening in West Virginia outside of the counties experiencing this, let alone nationwide.

It took me years of advocacy and documenting to prove this was a fact across Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. My computer is drowning in it, really.

Finally, it was nationally and internationally noted.

Kentucky moved toward action, to help these horses, legislatively and in a grassroots way.

And while I, through Heart of Phoenix, had been able to help dire cases on and off here in West Virginia and Kentucky, nothing had changed here.

I was invited to meet with land corporation attorneys and representatives and their state wide conference, where the largest land owners in the nation attended years back.

I took interviews over and over for the state, national and county news outlets.

HOP moved horses when we could in round ups, when it was desperate and when we had to, no matter what was said or allowed.

I’ve listened to countless people from the region beg for help for the horses as they suffered through winters or injuries. I’ve listened to others who defend this practice, who “think the horses are fed and look great.” Some think they are a tourist attraction, but what people really see are horses in roadways, injured, without farrier or dental care, inbreeding and interbreeding and often without enough to sustain them.

I’ve talk to national advocacy groups and anyone who might pause to hear the plight,

I’ve brought in people and rescues from other states to asses the situation.

I’ve lobbied to deaf and misguided and uncaring ears at the state legislature over and over.

I want more for these horses.

I intend to get it.

A step has been offered, an olive branch, recently.

Idealism is part of my life. It kind of way a decade ago. Today, we realize the numbers of horses, through nothing good, are down, the herds are not doing well, but they are better than 5 years ago, and we have the ability to help the worst now.

I call that a win. A win because it is one.

A success. I am thankful for it.

When you fight for a thing in spite of everyone and all things for this long, it begins to feel impossible.

This is not impossible. Something better is Possible.

This article helps Heart of Phoenix To grow a community of knowledgeable, rational advocates, HORSE People and potential adopters who make great homes for horses in transition looking for their new homes #RIGHTHORSE


3 thoughts on “Abandoned and Managed Mine Land Horses of Southern West Virginia

  1. These horses belong to people in West Virginia they turn them out so they can eat grass & run free, you can see their not starving, you guys are just taking peoples money, you don’t even feed these horses! Shame on you all for taking innocent peoples money & don’t even help these horses they belong to people here in West Virginia they don’t need your help!

    1. Maybe you need to open your eyes!! These horses don’t look healthy…I see thin, undernourished horses, one with a missing eye…people turn them out so they don’t have to be responsible for them.

    2. Soo..first, looks are deceiving. Look more closely, with an experienced eye, and you see 2 horses fighting, not playing. And in another photo, an injury to a leg thats gone untreated, and one with a missing eye, due to an injury, again, untreated. Mares in foal, sparse thin grass, and uneducated people making accusations they know nothing about. There is nothing in these photos that indicate these horses are cared for. other than the people standing there trying to make a difference and having to deal with these kinds of inaccurate accusations. Shame on you for not helping and trying to hurt those who are. I lived with this mess. And you don’t have a clue.

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