LaFAYETTE TWP. — Nestled in between Medina County’s country roads is a place where sick, injured and dying horses go to live out what could be their last days on Earth.
But it is the hope of North Ridgeville resident Brenda Lewis that the horses will leave Another Chance Equine Rescue happy, healthy and under the care of new owners — instead of being left in pastures to die.
Another Chance Equine Rescue, a nonprofit organization, began last September when Lewis, 51, became aware of a horse that needed urgent care in order to survive.
Lewis had contacted two area rescues and both felt the horse needed more care than they could provide and were afraid the cost of the rehabilitation would be too great, so they suggested euthanasia.
“I went to the barn where my horse was boarded and told the owner, Shannon Edgar, about this horse and that other rescuers were recommending euthanasia.
“She told me to bring the horse to her barn,” Lewis said.
According to Lewis, the boarders at Edgar’s barn rallied together and started to donate money to help save the horse.
“Like so many horse people, (the boarders) would not stand by and do nothing,” Lewis said.
When the horse arrived, he was barely alive, would walk only if forced and often times would fall.
“He was very emaciated and had no life in his eyes, they were dull and blank. He was literally standing in a field starving to death, in too much pain to move or graze,” Lewis said.
The horse also received a new name once he arrived at the equine rescue — Chance.
Trish Lindemood, executive director of Another Chance Equine Rescue, said she took one look at the horse and said to Lewis and Edgar, “You have to name him ‘Chance’ for giving him a second chance (at life).”
Lindemood, looking at Chance nibbling hay in his stall, said Chance has made a wonderful recovery, but he still needs to gain another couple hundred pounds.
But where Chance is today is a far cry from where he was last fall.
In order to get Chance eating again, a local vet had to start him on a re-feeding program to slowly bring back his vital organs to functioning level, Lewis said.
“He (the vet) told us that if Chance lived 10 days, he would have a good chance at making it back,” Lewis said.
The road to recovery for the horse hasn’t been easy.
After the vet made a visit to the barn, Sherry Eucker, a natural trimmer, examined Chance’s hoofs.
“She found toes that were five inches too long, no heels and new shoes on him and the abscesses had come out of his two front hooves,” Lewis said.
“It took four people to hold him up while she pulled off the shoes, noting that they had been nailed into the sensitive part of his soles,” Lewis said sadly.
Today, Chance, who responds to commands from Lewis, is slowly relearning to trust the human touch.
“It will take another six months for his feet to recover enough to start a riding program, and there is a chance he may never be sound, but he is happy, pain-free and running like the wind,” Lewis said, smiling.
On Wednesday, the Lodi farm from which Chance was taken was raided by humane officers, and 28 of the 40 horses were confiscated.
The owner of the farm is under investigation and could be charged with animal cruelty.
Trust is a vital component between a horse and an owner, Lewis said. And she should know: She’s been around horses since she was 2.
“My parents put me up on a horse, and I never stopped talking or wanting one from that day on,” she said. “Horses have been part of my life, a part of what makes life special for me. I can no longer ride, but just being around horses is as good for me. There is a peace that loving a horse gives to the soul, it is a gift that I treasure.”
Chance is not the only horse that has been rescued.
“We had raised money to help Chance and decided that we would continue to help as many horses as funding would allow,” Lewis said.
Her organization rents two stalls, as needed, in Edgar’s barn in Lafayette Township for recovering horses. That’s where two horses, which were rescued from Canton and have since recovered, had their health turned around.
Both were on the verge of being sent to a place known for slaughtering horses for meat. But Lewis and Edgar intervened, saving an Appaloosa gelding named Casper, who had been beaten with a 2-by-4 board so many times that he was blinded, and Moses, a Tennessee walker gelding who was found starving in a pasture with Casper.
The owner was willing to give Casper to Lewis and Edgar, but he said his wife could not part with Moses. A $600 offer changed their minds.
“When we are informed or come across a horse in need of urgent care, we will contact the owner and if need be, offer to purchase the horse to get it out of the bad situation and start it on a recovery program,” Lewis said.
“Many owners are ignorant ... as to what they are doing and many think they are not doing anything wrong. We focus on the best and fastest way to remove a horse that is going to die without care.
“Generally, money talks and there is no problem gaining ownership,” Lewis said.
To date, four horses have been saved: Chance, Moses, Casper and Ruby.
“Our rescue was established to help the horse that no one else cares for,” Lewis said. “We do not prosecute, nor do we judge what others do. Ohio animal rights laws need to be changed, and until they are, animal abuse and neglect will continue to run rampant.”
Lewis said that when she sees an animal near death, she does not become angry with its owners.
“We can not afford to become angry, as anger would certainly diminish most of our energy, and we need to stay focused on the horses in our care,” she said. “If I let myself become angry at the people who neglect or mistreat animals, I would have nothing left to give.”
Another Chance Equine Rescue accepts only horses that without intervention would die and is limited by funding on how many horses can be helped at one time.
To date, it has cost an estimated $2,200 to bring Chance from the brink of death, and he has another six months of hoof repair.
But without Lewis and Edgar, the four horses rescued surely would have died, alone, in a pasture or stall.
“The horses we take in need many things to make them whole again, and the cost is high. We may only save one horse at a time, but we do it well and that horse will receive the best of care. That horse will have another chance at life,” Lewis said.
Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO HELP
Another Chance Equine Rescue is a nonprofit organization that has an application pending for 501(c)(3) charity status.
To raise money, a garage sale will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 14 and 15 at the Top Hats-n-Tails Equestrian Center, 7651 Friendsville Road, Lodi. Want to donate items? They’ll be accepted 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through June 10 (except May 27) at the equestrian center.
For information, call Brenda Lewis at (440) 327-7219.