Abused horses get a new home

Friday, January 13th 2006, 10:29 am
By: News On 6

They've seen some of the worst that life can dish out. Now abused animals and troubled kids are finding common ground at a church boys' home in Cherokee County. The boys got a special delivery Friday.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says starved nearly to death, a herd of horses are on their way to a new life. Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies nursed them back to health.

Now they're putting them in the hands of people who understand exactly how they feel. Mark Howard, United Methodist Boys’ Ranch director: "It's a similar story between a lot of our boys and these horses."

Their arrival is a welcome sight for residents at United Methodist Boys' Ranch, a place that gives more than 20 boys from troubled homes a second chance. Right away, 17- year old Jerard Finch made a friend. "You can talk to them and they don't talk back, they don't have nothing to do but listen." One of the most successful programs at the ranch is animal therapy. The boys work hands on with the horses, learning about love and trust, things many didn't get a lot of at home.

For Jerard there's a special bond. "They're gonna be tough to work with because they've been abandoned. I've been neglected a couple times so, I know how they feel." In his three years at the ranch, Jerard's life has turned around. He's now finishing high school and headed for college.

13-year old Michael Stone is a fairly new arrival, for both boys, horses have been the key to connecting with people. "We get to ride em and have fun. It teaches you a lot of stuff and encourages you to do better."

Jerard Finch: "When I'm around em I just calm down, cause I know if you make skittish moves, they get scared."

Mark Howard: "we try to help the boys become what they were meant to be, we don't look at them as at risk, we look at them as at promise." Promise many didn't realize they had, until they were taught to care about others and themselves.

The horses will join about 90 other animals on the 400 acre ranch. The United Methodist Church first opened it in the early 1960’s.