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Minnie's Miracle

Duchess Sanctuary restores neglected horses to health

  • Upon arrival at the Duchess Sanctuary, Minnie was skin and bones. Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS

  • Minne and her four herdmates are regaining strength and their natural beauty. Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS

by Jennifer Kunz

When Minnie came to the Duchess Sanctuary on July 8, she was in sorry shape.

She and 55 other horses had been seized by the sheriff’s department in Crook County, Ore., in a cruelty case in January.

Teetering on the brink of starvation, the animals had recovered thanks to donations from The HSUS, the Oregon Hay Bank, and a bevy of local citizens.

Since then, Minnie had been shifted around from place to place—between several county holding facilities, up to an adoption event, over to Kirzy’s Equine Rescue, and finally up to our Oakland, Ore., sanctuary.

Blossoming into beauties

It was clear that Minnie and the four other mares—later named Feather, Sahara, Nala, and Jemma by Duchess Sanctuary's facebook fans—had seen better days. But behind the skin-and-bones facade, their fine thoroughbred physiques still shone through. 

Duchess staff and volunteers were excited to begin the hard work of rehabilitating them—building up their strength with quality feed and deworming, and uncovering their natural beauty with long hours of grooming their coats to a lustrous sheen.

The road ahead

Minnie and her four friends still have a way to go before they can find their forever homes. After they've been deemed healthy and fit enough to travel, the mares will make another journey, this time to the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center in Texas. 

Once there, professional trainers will use natural horsemanship methods to develop the horses into wonderful companions. Each mare will be developed at her own speed, in hand (led on a line) and under saddle, in both English and Western riding styles.

Adoption options

After their training, Minnie and her four friends should have little trouble finding perfect placement, whether with equine programs that use thoroughbreds as mounted patrol or with potential adopters who have expressed interest in thoroughbreds specifically.

Other horses from Minnie's cruelty case are still awaiting adoption at Kirzy’s Equine Rescue and Equine Outreach in Bend, Ore.

Jennifer Kunz is ranch manager, Duchess Sanctuary, operated by The Fund for Animals in partnership with The HSUS. 

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