A lone horse, later named “Lightning,” was found abandoned on a road near Homer last fall, thrown away like some heartless people throw out a dog.
He was skittish and in pain from a broken tooth and went instinctively to a nearby fence where a kinder person took him into their pasture to keep him from being hit by a car.
And that’s when Colbert Veterinary Rescue entered the picture.
Board member Jon Ainbinder, a Christian life counselor, and his wife, Mary Beth Ainbinder, heard about the horse’s plight and made plans to pick up the disoriented creature from the person who rescued him, but who could not keep him for the long term.
Lucky horse, because Ainbinder is also on the board for “Turn-The-Page,” a new equine therapy ranch in Sandersville, near Milledgeville.
Ainbinder contacted his friend and one of the ranch’s founders, Sophie Parker, who agreed to take the animal, if the Ainbinders could get him there.
In the meantime, Colbert Vet Rescue had also taken in two other horses at the request of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, who had confiscated the underfed animals from a hoarding situation in a nearby county. They were being temporarily boarded in a Colbert pasture and also needed a place to go for the long term. Parker agreed to take them in as well. The Ainbinders borrowed a friend’s horse trailer and a truck from the vet rescue and off they went.
Loading Lightning was not an easy matter, Ainbinder recalls.
“We had to back the trailer into the pasture and then wrangle him into the trailer, it took some doing,” he said. At one point the frightened animal sat down in the trailer, he was so scared.
But they made the trip successfully to Turn-the-Page, where Lightning began to respond to Parker pretty quickly. “She got on the ground in front of him and he was literally eating out of her hand not long after we got there.
Turn-The-Page is located on 46 acres of land down a dirt road about 30 miles south of Milledgeville. Parker, who’s been riding since she was 5, said she came up with the idea of taking rescue horses and rehabilitating them — teaching them to trust people and then in turn, using them to help abused women and children regain trust by forming a bond with a horse.
“Developing empathy for a horse and learning to support their equine partners creates an awareness of other’s feelings, interest and needs,” the Turn-The-Page website states. “Individuals who learn to treat a horse with kindness, respect, responsibility and loving discipline are empowered to be better parents, students, employees and friends…Learning to share power and develop a partnership with a 1,000-pound animal is a tremendous boost to self-esteem.”
Parker, herself a survivor of an abusive marriage, said it was her love of horses that saved her and “brought her back to life” in the 12 years since the relationship ended.
“Had there been a facility like the one I’m making here, I believe I would have been in a better place much faster,” she said. “I’m good now and I want to help others find their way.”
They now have four horses they are working with; Lightning and the other two from Colbert Vet Rescue, which were named Sarge and Thunder, and a horse Parker had previously, named Scarlette. Another rescue horse, Cotton and her filly, Beauty, died in February during the ice storm.
“Cotton was already bred when I got her and she shouldn’t have been,” Parker said. “She just wasn’t able to bounce back after the birth.”
She said it was slow-going after Lightning arrived.
“I pretty much left him on his own for a few days to learn to feel safe here,” she said. One day she came home to find him lying on the ground in distress. He had developed colic, which can be a life-threatening condition in a horse. She managed to get a halter on him — and then he laid his head in her lap. She worked with him, walking him around the pasture for hours while treating him for the colic. That experience ignited his trust in her.
“I can handle him now, pick up his feet, hang on him, do what I want with him – he trusts me and knows I won’t hurt him,” she said.
As for Sarge and Thunder, they are picking up weight while they are in training. “On a scale of 0 to 10, their body mass index was only about 1.5 to 2 percent when they arrived at Colbert Vet Rescue,” Parker said. “Now they’re up to about a 4. We’ve still got a ways to go, but you can’t see their ribs now – they are going to be beautiful animals when their weight is back up where it should be.”
Turn-The-Page is still in its planning stages and the board is working to become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
They are in need of start up and operating funds as well as a 60 – 70 foot training pen for the horses.
“I think this is an excellent example of two rescues working together for the good of the animals we’re trying to help,” Ainbinder said.
Colbert Vet Rescue is already a non-profit organization and though Turn-the-Page is not officially as of yet, Parker says they do have a business license number and donations can be considered tax-deductible.
Colbert Vet Rescue works to care for and find homes for abandoned or neglected dogs and cats. They also sponsor public education programs about pet care and pet abuse. In addition, they hold pet adoption events and assist other rescue organizations in caring for and placing animals, such as in this instance.
To learn more about Colbert Veterinary Rescue, or to make a donation, go to www.colbertvetrescue.org or visit them on Facebook at Colbert Veterinary Rescue.
To learn more about Turn-The-Page, to make a donation, or to find out how you can sponsor a horse, go to www.turn-the-page.org
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