‘It’s heartbreaking’: Equine Rescue of Aiken’s desperate cry for help

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - For 16 years, the Equine Rescue of Aiken has rescued horses, nursing them back to health so they can find a new loving home.

But the last few years have been a struggle.

In 2020, they say they lost 60 percent of their revenue because of the pandemic. In 2021, a fire cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now they’re having to turn horses away because they’re at capacity.

When you hear the Equine Rescue of Aiken, some of you may not know where that is or what it is, but they work to help horses who have been neglected or haven’t been taken care of.

The non-profit has struggled over the past few years, and now they’re asking for the community’s help.

Irish Snow is just one example of the work the Equine Rescue of Aiken does to help neglected and starving horses.

“We’re helping them get back to health and giving them lots of love and attention, and hopefully, they will find a new forever, loving home,” said Equine Manager Ashley Wallick.

Over the past three months, they’ve rescued five more horses.

They say they’re only seeing more cases like Snow’s, Justice’s, and Gracie’s.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard not to cry every time,” said Wallick. “They deserve a wonderful life.”

The past few years have made that difficult.

Executive Director Jim Rhodes said: “In 2019, we had a banner year. Donations were up, our programs were running strong, and everything was going great, but little did we know that in just a few short months that the whole world would be shut down with COVID.”

It’s been rough trying to get back on the saddle. A pandemic in 2020, a barn fire in 2021, and inflation; are all taking shots.

“Gas, diesel, fertilizer, hay, feed, grain, trucking, you name it, and it’s gone sky high,” he said.

Just three years ago, their horse count was 75 plus. They can only budget for 42 now.

“We’re getting calls on a daily basis of people needing help or wanting help, and we’re having to say ‘No’. It’s hard to say no,” he said.

As the biggest rescue in the southeast, they need all the support they can get

“We need the public’s help to keep going with our programs and all that,” said Rhodes.

Right now, the rescue has a brick fundraiser going on. There are several different options for you to buy. The money goes towards helping to rebuild the new rescue after their old one burned down.