(Edited press release)
A number of factors have converged to make this a very difficult year for Kentucky’s horses. Equine overpopulation, a challenging economy, and last summer’s draught are among the causes of distress that have put the Bluegrass horse industry in the national media spotlight.
In an attempt to improve the situation, the Kentucky Horse Park will host the first annual John Henry Memorial Equine Adoption Fair June 28, named for the late champion who passed away at the park last fall.
John Henry spent the first several years of his life as an unwanted equine, until he came into the hands of a trainer who recognized the value of a horse that the rest of the world saw as small, plain, ill-tempered, and poorly conformed. John Henry rewarded those who finally saw his value with more than $6 million in earnings.
“We’ve all been disturbed by the sight of neglected and starving horses in the news, and we are determined to do something about it,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “We’re going to put our actions where our hearts are. If everyone who benefits from the horse industry will pitch in, it is possible that we could come close to eliminating the problem of unwanted horses in our state very quickly. The one thing that is not acceptable is for people to know that Kentucky’s horses are in crisis and yet do nothing to help.”
The John Henry Memorial Equine Adoption Fair will find homes for other unwanted horses by bringing together a number of equine adoption organizations to showcase their rescued, adoptable horses.
It will also raise funds through a silent auction for the Kentucky Horse Council’s “Save Our Horses” fund, which has already saved the lives of many horses and ponies across the state of Kentucky though its emergency horse hotline. The fund provides financial support for feed and veterinarian care when an individual or a county cares for a horse that has been confiscated due to its poor condition.
In addition, the fund is providing an Equine Abuse Investigation Class to train local officials how to successfully identify horses that need help, and how to ensure prosecution when it is warranted.
The event will take place during the MidSouth Pony Club Mega Rally at the park, and in partnership with the Kentucky Horse Council. The public is invited, free of charge.
Grace Hobbie, vice regional supervisor for the MidSouth Region of the United States Pony Club said, “We see this as a great opportunity to help these magnificent animals find a loving home. Regardless of how they may look at the beginning of the relationship, they can turn out to be one of the best mounts you have ever had.”
“The Kentucky Horse Park’s Equine Adoption Fair is just one example of the creative solutions we must all come up with to find new, safe homes for neglected horses,” added Ginny Grulke, executive director of the KHC. “The Kentucky Horse Council is dedicated to assisting the unwanted horse, and we are proud to work with the Kentucky Horse Park in protecting Kentucky’s signature animal, to which we owe so much.”
Nicholson concluded, “We believe the responsibility for the welfare of horses falls squarely on the shoulders of every Kentuckian, because every Kentuckian benefits from the horse industry. It is clearly within our power to fix this. It should be within our hearts as well.”
For general information on the John Henry Memorial Equine Adoption Fair, call 859-233-4303; for volunteer information contact Gina Beare at 859-259-4267 or firstname.lastname@example.org; for horse information contact Tracy Walker at 859-259-4262 or email@example.com.