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Rescued Horses: The Lucky Ones

Meet two of the lucky ones—horses saved from neglect and an uncertain future.

By Kitson Jazynka | January 2014

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The American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) estimates that there are about 170,000 unwanted horses in the United States. Rescue organizations and adoptive families dedicate their lives to providing a safety net for homeless horses of every size, color and breed.

Here, we meet two happy, healthy horses who—with help from their devoted rescuers—escaped neglect and the possibility of slaughter and will live out their lives in greener pastures.

Meet Zodiac


Zodiac, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, was rescued by Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md., and adopted by Jean and Jeff McKay of Gaithersburg, Md.

About Zodiac:
A winning racehorse under the name Rhythmic Moves, Zodiac earned more than $200,000 during his racing career but was retired after injuring his right front leg. In September 2010, animal control officers impounded Zodiac and seven other horses (one of which later died) from a farm because of their emaciated state. He was near death for the first few weeks after his arrival at Days End Farm, which considers Zodiac to be the most critically ill horse taken in during its 21-year history.

"I grew up with horses and have volunteered off and on at Days End since 2004, when I adopted my first horse, Classy, from them,” says Jean. "For months, I fed Zodiac, groomed him and walked him around the farm every weekend.”

Rescue challenges:
"Zodiac arrived emaciated, with just about every bone visible,” says Jean. "He was so badly starved that he had been eating blue stone footing to survive. At Days End, he had to wear a grazing muzzle to keep him from eating sawdust in his stall. He was so weak that he couldn’t stand. He had to be put in a sling for nine weeks, requiring around-the-clock attention and care. He had other serious problems, too, like ulcers in both eyes, bacterial infections in his legs and severe dehydration requiring intravenous fluids 24 hours a day. Gradually he became stronger and healthier, transitioning to one hour a day out of the sling, then to brief walks outside, then turnout little by little.”

Life after adoption:
"As soon as he stepped off the trailer at our home, Zodiac knew he was home,” says Jean. "He has a fused fetlock joint with a steel plate in his right front leg, so he’ll never be rideable. But he still lives life with a lot of zest. He loves to entice his pasturemates, Classy and Willow, to race. I keep him busy with ground-training exercises to increase his suppleness and to maintain his manners. His only job description is providing me with unlimited happiness.”

Meet Chino


From Unwanted to Pampered Pet
Chino, an 11-year-old Paint Horse gelding, was rescued by Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md., and adopted by Mary and Emily Benton of Linthicum, Md.

About Chino:
Chino arrived at Days End in 2009 as an emaciated neglect case from Caroline County, Md. He was in so much pain that after getting off the trailer, he didn’t seem to notice his new surroundings and wouldn’t stop grinding his teeth.

Rescue challenges:
While being treated for colic, Chino ended up in the emergency clinic for intensive care.

About Mary and Emily:
"At 14 years old, my daughter Emily asked if she could adopt a rescue as her forever horse,” says Mary. "We already had two rescue horses from Days End, Butterball and Diego. Emily didn’t mind the extra training, patience and time that a rescue horse would require.”

Life after adoption:
"It was a memorable day for our family when Chino came home,” says Mary. "It was a surprise for Emily, and it didn’t take long for them to build a strong bond. Whenever she goes out of his sight, he searches for her with eyes and ears and seems to smile the moment she reappears.

"Emily and Chino (his show name is ‘Nekyia’) have participated in clinics and dressage shows, and earned a fourth place ribbon at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials,” Mary continues. "Chino is simply a dream when it comes to being level-headed. He is extremely patient and willing in everything he does.

"Emily and Chino enjoy hanging out, training and trail riding. She is looking forward to many years of having her best friend by her side, experiencing a love that is a privilege and honor.

Find out more about adopting and caring for rescue horses at

Read about two more rescue success stories, AJ and Hope, in the January 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.

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Rescued Horses: The Lucky Ones

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

1/30/2014 11:55:33 PM

Nice to read of happy endings.

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