Poverty: At the root of equine neglect in Appalachia

It isn’t just horses.

It is children. The elderly. The roads. The homes.

I have called West Virginia my home for almost all of my thirty four years. I love this place.

I hate it, as well.

The poverty and ignorance sometimes bowls me over. The contentment, the resistance to change, the loss of hope. It is beyond the scope of outsiders.

People are warm, talkative, giving and helpful in a way you will never find somewhere else. I’ve tried. That is why I always come back here, hopeless as the place is, I can’t be without those things we have here.

Yet, I feel we are, as a whole, a consigned people. Consigned to this culture which neglects everything around us too often. It is all too people of us know.

Where I find skeletal horses, I look around at mobile homes caving in, children mulling about with trash everywhere. I know that Child Protective Services should frequently be right behind my horse trailer when we leave, though they rarely are. And that bothers me to my core. . .

Disrepair and despair. . .it is all over the hollows full of shanty type dwellings and children that will grow up never knowing there is more than “this.”

This becomes normal. Poverty and ignorance and contentment.

A world where normal is:

Horses just are skeletal, dogs just have mange, your sewer line runs in the creek and when a car stops working, you leave it there in front of the house that never ended up having siding put on it.

After a life lived in one of the poorest counties in the United States, I get it. I’ve seen things people deny take place in America. Folks think we are “better” than that, and I know “better.”

But slowly, you can show people there is more. Too many beings depends on this generation knowing more, doing more and being more.

Our mission at Heart of Phoenix has long been to show people a better way. To change a “normal” that is broken. . .to fix it. While we fix it for horses, I like to believe it helps to fix it for the people looking on, learning, understanding better than they did before.


As Right Horse Partners, we are here to create a more compassionate, pragmatic support system for those doing right by people and by horses, so you can count on us to help! #RIGHTHORSE

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