Bringing many rescued horses back to good health is just one of the missions of the Horse Protection Association of Florida. The group also works in partnership with a star equine Paralympian and Parelli Professional to provide training for the horses to help better their chances for adoption.
The association is based at a farm near Shiloh, in northwest Marion County, near the Alachua County line. Morgan Silver is the executive director. She has formed a partnership with 4-Star Parelli Professional and Paralympian Lauren Barwick, who has the Bridging the Gap Farm in Reddick.
The duo will host open house events from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 25 at Barwick's farm, located at 2950 NW 137th Place, Reddick.
Attendees will be able meet some of the rescued horses that are available for adoption and that are currently in training with Barwick.
According to her website, Barwick was working at a movie studio ranch that specialized in horses and was learning about stunt performing when a 100-pound bale of hay fell from 10 feet above and broke her back. She thought she would never ride again, but after meeting Linda and Pat Parelli and following their Parelli Natural Horsemanship program, she began to compete and succeed. She has since attended four Paralympics Games and four World Games in Para Equestrian Dressage, bringing home gold, silver and bronze medals. She also is a reining champion and United States Dressage Federation bronze medalist.
"Lauren is Horse Development Director for the Horse Protection Association of Florida and will present eight of the horses rescued from starvation and neglect who are currently in training at her Bridging the Gap Horsemanship in Reddick," Silver said in a news release.
Silver said open house attendees can learn "what Parelli Natural Horsemanship is and how it helps horses to be calmer, braver and smarter through building a relationship between horse and human."
"Horses from the Horse Protection Association of Florida have been rehabilitated from the cruelty they suffered and have been in training with Lauren for a period of time," Silver stated in the release.
One example of the work done by the association came on July 9, when, working with the Levy County Sheriff's Office, they took in four emaciated thoroughbreds.
"The two 2-year-old fillies were critical and close to death, but with daily treatment by our veterinarian for seven days we know one will survive and we are hopeful about another, who was in the worst condition of the four fillies," Silver noted in an email.
She said one of the horses gained 83 pounds in seven days. The other gained 14 pounds in that time and now is "much brighter and starting to walk more like a 2-year-old than like the horse barely dragging herself along that she was last week. The two yearlings are now galloping and bucking like babies should, and should be OK," Silver wrote.
"We never know long-term with youngsters, how they will fare, as they can have damage that shows up later in life from their bodies leeching minerals from their bones to use for functioning while they were starving," she added.
According to the association's website, rehabilitating malnourished, abused and neglected horses is only a part of what they do. Almost every horse requires training or retraining. Many have been mishandled or physically abused. Some are feral.
The care, feeding, grooming and training of the horses is costly and time consuming. That is why, Silver said, there is always a need for donations and volunteers.
The association is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. According to Silver, the organization's funds are dangerously low but a donor is offering a matching gift challenge through Aug. 31, up to $10,000. The donations are tax-deductible.
Donations for adoptions range from $500 to $1,000, depending on each horse's training. Adopters receive three lessons with their new horse to make sure the match is successful, she said.
Information from: The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, http://www.gainesvillesun.com
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