Orange County

‘They make no judgement’: Horse therapy location in Apopka struggling during pandemic

APOPKA, Fla. — Down Dusty Golden Gem Road, you’ll find a hidden jewel located 30 minutes outside Orlando.

It’s where Channel 9 met Elbert McKimmie. For six years, along with his wife Susan, they’ve been rescuing and re-homing neglected horses on their Apopka farm, molding a special relationship with each one..

The response of the recovered horses to people inspired The Scotty Foundation, which trains them to help humans heal.

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“They make no judgment on how you feel or who you are,” Elbert McKimmie said.

From educational children’s camps to anyone dealing with emotional or developmental challenges, it’s a secure and private experience for free.

The operation means using 2,000 pounds of hay a week, along with other care and vet expenses, adding up to more than $70,000 a year.

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After a nine-month pandemic furlough in Susan McKimmie’s job, struggles piled up. Then came the heart-wrenching decision to close.

Since then, it’s been tough keeping up with the grounds, and the horses miss those daily visitors.

As the foundation pushes to reopen safely in the new year, the McKimmies hope the community will help -- not with money, but with time.

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This weekend, you can come out and groom a horse, muck a stall, or do a little yard work. Every bit helps.

“It’s not so much a workday, it’s more to bring awareness of what we do,” Elbert McKimmie said.

This weekend’s event runs on Sunday and is completely free of charge. Children who show up will also get free pony rides.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.