By Chea Waters Evans
In January 2013, Shelburne police discovered a stallion and two mares in a local barn; they were obviously neglected. Willie, Dolly, and Lolly were covered in lice, nearly blind, and barely able to walk. Thanks to the efforts of Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon, Vt., the three horses are recovering and living a life that involves the outdoors, proper medical care, and the love and attention of people and horses.
When local Christie Crowe heard of the situation with Willie, Dolly, and Lolly, she “was angry…I knew she had to do something,” she said, “but I felt helpless.” Crowe was inspired to learn all she could about Vermont laws pertaining to animal abuse, and what legal action could be taken against people who abused horses. Though animal cruelty charges against George Wilson and Ann Gilbreth, the horses’ owners, were eventually dropped, Crowe was already on a mission. She took an animal abuse investigation course and started volunteering with Spring Hill.
When the three horses first arrived at Spring Hill, they were ill and injured. Willie, in particular, had a difficult recovery. Spring Hill board president and humane agent Deb Loring said, “They have made amazing progress…but it has been a tough ongoing rehabilitation.” In addition to many medical issues, the horses suffered from fear of humans and loneliness. Willie is now happily the “herd boss” at Spring Hill, and is prone to, according to Loring, “galloping across his paddock with great abandon.” Though he will likely face minor health challenges for the rest of his life, Loring said, “We couldn’t have hoped for a better recovery.”
Dolly and Lolly, while physically more healthy than Willie, were “absolutely terrified of humans,” Loring said. Although they do not yet completely trust people, they have come a long way, and Dolly especially is beginning to accept human touches and work with people. Community support and donations have been an essential element of the horses’ recoveries, and the staff at Spring Hill are grateful for all the help they received so far. “We felt that we were truly a part of a community,” Loring said, “and that these horses belonged to all of us.” They hope that eventually suitable adoptive homes will be found for the horses, “and if not, kind people who would sponsor their ongoing care at our farm.”
While Willie, Dolly, and Lolly were fortunate enough to be rescued, there are many horses around the state who need help. Spring Hill is the only horse rescue in the area, and horse charges are the second most frequent animal abuse incidents in the state. Crowe, Cooper, and Loring hope that with the help of the animal-loving community, these cases will cease to exist.
To support the care of these horses and learn more about how to prevent issues of abuse, Spring Hill is offering the following workshop:
Saturday, July 26: “Setting Healthy Boundaries” Crowe’s One Mitten Farm, Shelburne. $169 per-person, all proceeds go to Spring Hill Rescue.
For more information regarding these events and Spring Hill Rescue, visit www.springhillrescue.com or call 775-1098.