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Rescued horses look for love

June 04, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

FAIRPLAY - A rain-pelted, walnut-brown stallion threw his head and pranced in his enclosure, his eyes and ears focused on a herd of horses he could not join.

Rocky, one of 75 once-thin and parasite-stricken animals rescued from the Windrinker farm near Sharpsburg, still was looking for a new family.

"I'd like to just be able to pet him, that would be the greatest gift of all," said volunteer Kelly Thompson, who tried Sunday to quiet Rocky, as the Humane Society of Washington County sponsored a two-day showcase of some of its horses for adoption at a farm in Fairplay.

Humane Society Executive Director Paul Miller said the conditions of the Windrinker horses and other animals have improved since December 2006, when they were taken from Barbara Reinken.

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Miller said the Windrinker animals were divided among at least three locations, including the Fairplay farm, where at least eight horses recuperated before finding new homes. On Sunday, Miller said people interested in some of the other animals had applied to adopt all but six or eight of the Fairplay horses.

"I think they're all adoptable. I think what people have to understand is some of them might take more work than some others to be the horse they want it to be," Miller said.

Miller estimated the horses' care so far has cost about $200,000. About half of that has come from donations of services or goods, such as feed, he said.

Reinken was found guilty in April of one felony count of animal cruelty and 10 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect.

"It melts your heart the circumstances that these horses have come from," said Dawn Osborne, who stood in a field of mares with her daughters, Jordan and Madison, looking over horses they were interested in adopting.

Since the rescue effort began, five horses died, Miller said.

Miller said he does not know how many times the Humane Society responded to complaints about the Windrinker farm, or whether earlier intervention might have saved some of the horses. At Reinken's trial, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said the Humane Society had "intervened and visited" the Windrinker farm since 1996.

Before people can adopt the horses, the Humane Society will check their references and conduct interviews and home visits. The adoption fee is $500, Miller said.

Jordan, 12, said her father, mother and sister all have riding horses at their home in Frederick, Md., and she was hoping for one of her own. She had her eye on a pregnant painted mare she said the Humane Society officials temporarily named Sweet Sue.

After all day in the rain, Jordan said she and her sister were gaining the wary mare's trust.

"When she lets you come close to her, she's very lippy, and she's like, 'Hey, how you doing?' She seems to have a mind of her own. She's a very nice little girl," said Jordan, who wore a horseshoe-shaped pendant around her neck.

Outside Rocky's pen, Thompson said she is holding out hope for all the horses. Since the rescue began, the 48-year-old woman who lives near Greencastle, Pa., said she has come to the farm every day for hours at a time.

Rocky, a stallion who is too boisterous and aggressive to go near any of the horses, finally lets her get close.

"Easy, Rocky, it's all right, buddy," Thompson said, cajoling the horse as he whinnied and nickered. Within range, a black-and-white foal side-stepped and hopped near its mother.

"There's a little bit of joy with all the sorrow ... We have a baby," said Thompson, who is considering taking in Rocky, if no one else wants the energetic horse.

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