AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Equine Rescue of Aiken is a non-profit organization that’s mission is to recue horses who have been abused or neglected to find a new purpose for off-the-track thoroughbreds, giving them a second chance at a new life.

For “Your Hometown Road Trip,” we stopped by the rescue and talked with the staff about what they do.

They also showed us how to spot horse neglect, and talked about how the community can help the rescue.

Tell us about what you do here at the rescue.

Well, we’ve got two parts to our mission. One is helping horses that have been neglected or starvation cases, and so about 40% of our horses that we take in are those types of horses.

The other 60% of the horses are retired race horses, and they’re off-the-track thoroughbreds, and they come in, we put them in quarantine.

We’ve got about 90 volunteers that are out here off and on every other day, and we care for the horses. We make sure that the thoroughbreds have their racing plates pulled, and they’re allowed to just relax and be a horse.

Ashley, our manager, she’ll work with them and try to rehab them and find out, “Gee, what would their second career be?” We’ve had horses become trick-riding horses, fox hunting, hunter/jumper.

On April 3rd, 2021 the rescue had a devastating barn fire.

They suspect it was an electrical fire that started up in the wooden area, and it burned very quickly, five fire departments.

It was devastating because we lost everything that we had. We’ve been trying to raise funds to rebuild the barn.

Did the community help after the fire?

Well, it was interesting because that Sunday morning, the sun was rising, It was still smoky in the air, and it was like the “Field of Dreams,” trucks and cars driving up the driveway with buckets and lead ropes and halters and, anything that they had that was extra, and it was really overwhelming.

What should you look for when looking for horse neglect?

You look at their neck. So, their neck, the crest of their neck, you can cup your hand, and usually it shouldn’t you should be able to just cup your hand and feel the whole horse’s neck on a healthy horse.

Then you should also look at the horse’s withers, you look behind the horse’s shoulder, and horses that get too much weight, they get fat pockets, it’s also just as bad to have an overweight horse as it is to have a very skinny horse.

Then, you also look at their hind end and their tail head, and with a healthy horse, you’ll have a lot of muscle and stuff here, and with an overweight horse, you won’t be able to see
the tailhead at all.

Equine Rescue of Aiken is still doing fundraisers, and they hope the community can help. They also hope the community keeps an eye out for horse neglect, and will report it, if seen.