A little more than a year ago, when Gale Mott stopped by Cherrywood Farm in Paris looking for a place to start a home for equine rescue, owner Tommy Burberry didn't know that would be the beginning of a new direction in his life as well.
The retired postal worker and farmer soon became just as devoted to saving horses as his new tenant and friend.
Mott, a nurse at Saint Joseph Hospital on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington, and Burberry find themselves digging into their own wallets sometimes to care for abused and neglected horses that come to the Second Chance Equine Rescue and Sanctuary Inc.
The sanctuary receives some support from individual donations, fund-raisers and the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, but the costs can be considerable. Some of the horses need serious rehabilitation that involves veterinary treatment, food, shelter and a lot of hands-on attention.
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Neither Mott nor Burberry is planning to stop rescuing horses, though.
"I enjoy it," Burberry said. "I was born on a farm and farmed all my life. My real love is the farm. But I didn't know there was a big need to rescue the horses. Now, I see a lot of abused horses."
Mott didn't see the need for rescue, either, when she and her daughter rode for pleasure. Now, "it just seems to be my passion, what I need to do," she said. "I can't help very many, but the ones that I do help have such great personalities."
The sanctuary has six rescued horses living on the farm. Two are off-the-track Thoroughbreds; the others are abused and abandoned horses.
One of them, Second Chance, was found in February 2008 on the side of a road near Elizabethtown with deep sores and on the verge of starvation. He registered a low 2 out of 9 on the Henneke System of Body Condition Scoring.
According to the Kentucky Horse Council, a horse with a body condition score of 1 is in danger of starving to death. A horse with a score of 9 is extremely obese. The normal range for a healthy horse is 4 to 7.
Although many suggested the colt be euthanised, the woman who found him, Nicole Baker, fought to claim him and save him. She is now a sanctuary board member.
No one knows how long the horse had lain near the road before Baker came by.
After one month, he could finally stand, and after three months, he could run. Now he is a permanent resident of the sanctuary.
Another rescued horse is Danni, a 32-year-old mare with one eye.
Mary Thomas, the sanctuary board's secretary who lives in St. Joseph, Mich., said she found Danni in Michigan when her owners were going to put her up for auction.
"The owners had family issues," Thomas said. "For a horse that age and missing an eye, she would have ended up not being adopted."
Instead, Thomas took in the skinny horse, nursed her back to proper weight and then brought her to the sanctuary when it opened.
She said people "need to go out to the farm and hear the stories of the horses there," she said. "Each one has an awesome story."
While there, she said, consider volunteering to help feed, walk and groom the animals.
"Right now, Gale does it mostly by herself," Thomas said.
And, money would not be turned away, either.
Thomas, who has been in charge of fund-raising, said the sanctuary has one benefactor who donates $250 a month. They hold fund-raisers and garage sales as well.
The sanctuary is a registered non-profit corporation in the state, but it is still awaiting the 501(c)(3) designation as a charity. When that designation is obtained, receipts will be sent out for all donations received.
Mott said fly masks of any kind would be appreciated, as well as beet pulp, which is a by-product of the beet vegetable and easily digestible for recovering animals.
If you want to donate, volunteer or visit the sanctuary, call Mott at (859) 707-4688.
If you do, though, you will probably join Mott and Burberry in their love of rescuing neglected and abused horses.
But you won't mind any more than they do.