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Abandoned horses now thriving in care of Barren County government, state park

Bowling Green WBKO logo Bowling Green WBKO 10/21/2020
a horse standing on top of a wooden fence: Horses rescued at Barren River Lake State Park. © Provided by Bowling Green WBKO Horses rescued at Barren River Lake State Park.

BARREN COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) - After found abandoned a year ago, a handful of horses are now thriving in the care of Barren County officials and Barren River Lake State Park.

“They didn’t take care of them. They basically just left them to die,” said Barren County Judge-Executive Michael Hale.

Instead of darkness, these nine horses found light in a new home.

“And as you can tell, they’re pretty spoiled,” said Hale.

Animal Control and officials were called to the scene at the state park a year ago this month, where they found the horses abandoned and suffering.

“What we noticed was the bark on these trees were eat as high as they could reach. They didn’t have any grass. Medically, they could go south quickly,” explained Hale.

The owner apparently had a contract with the state park in order to keep his horses there. It’s unclear how long they were left unattended.

The vet who cared for the horses says had they been found three weeks later, it could have been a different story.

“The fact that we were able to come earlier in the process before they had gotten in horrible and horrible shape made it easier,” said Dr. Steven Webb, Animal Clinic of Glasgow.

Now in the county’s custody, the friendly horses are thriving and have gained back almost 200 pounds each.

“The marriage between us in the county in us housing them and they are taking care of them has worked out fantastic,” said Danny Sallee, Resort Park Manager at Barren River Lake State Park.

Not only have they found a home and family, but also friends around the park.

“It’s wonderful for the park -- even though they can’t ride them at the moment -- to see children come up and the rub and the pet the horses, and just see the smile on their face makes it all worth it for us here,” said Sallee.

“I encourage them to do more of that because they love the interaction with people. They love it,” said Hale.

While some might call them the lucky nine, others believe they now just get a fair shot at life that they are definitely enjoying-- something every animal deserves.

“We enjoy having him. It is an expense, but you know, we’ve saved some lives here,” said Hale.

The previous owner is expected in court next month for possible animal cruelty charges. Long-term goals include getting them healthy enough to start riding the trails again.

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