OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. - Horse lovers from the Mid-South gathered Sunday afternoon in Olive Branch to take part in the first "Ride For Rescues" trail ride at Kimberlin Farms. Participants saddled up their horses, making donations that would benefit the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, which is a non-profit organization.
"Dogs and cats, you think of them all the time but there's a huge issue with homeless horses here locally. We wanted to bring awareness to the problem," said Ashlee Pigford, a riding instructor in Olive Branch.
Several owners of rescues were on hand to share their success stories. Memphian Bob Harbin was one of those tender hearts in attendance. Harbin rescued a starving horse this past July, a quarter horse gelding he named Mr. Tipton.
"When I got him, he was 600 pounds," said Harbin. "He's right at 900 pounds now. I have to add, I had about a dozen people contribute feed and vet care to this horse."
Harbin credits the team work of his fellow horse-lovers for Mr. Tipton's improvement. He's hoping to find Mr. Tipton a loving, forever home soon.
Pigford rode Popeye in Sunday's trail ride, a 30-plus year old rescue horse that came to Kimberlin Farms malnourished.
"Believe it or not, Popeye was pretty frisky today," joked Pigford.
Popeye and Mr. Tipton's stories are far too common and in a struggling economy, cases like theirs are more prevalent. That's why Sunday's event at Kimberlin Farms was so important for those attending.
"Horses are a very expensive pet to take care of. They require a lot of education and well-informed owners," said Pigford. "We're seeing less and less of that and also people not being able to take care of them in this harsh economy."