LENOIR CITY, Tenn. — The East Tennessee nonprofit Horse Haven found and rescued a blind miniature horse on Thursday. Now, the staff is nursing her back to health.
The 23-year-old nonprofit originally got a call from a landowner in Claiborne County, who said a miniature horse wandered onto their property.
Horse Haven works with law enforcement and animal control to make sure the horses they rescue, who may be neglected or abandoned, are captured safely and humanely.
When they arrived at the field on Thursday, January 27, they saw the mini blending in with a herd of cattle. She was about the same size as the calves.
Ashley Ford, the Executive Director at Horse Haven, says the horse, who they now lovingly call 'Brûlée,' is lucky to be alive.
"She's completely blind in both eyes, so she was extremely scared, extremely nervous," Ford said. "[She] probably hasn't had a lot of handling here recently, but it's clear that she was somebody's pet at one time."
According to various reports, Brûlée had been roaming the field with cows as her bodyguards for close to 6 months. The staff guesses Brûlée is around 30 years old.
"That's a long time, and especially with the temperatures dipping down," Ford said. "There were several ravines that she could have fallen into, and being blind, not having another seeing-eye horse out there to kind of help her, she needed to be brought into safety."
Getting Brûlée to her new temporary home in the barn at Horse Haven was a bit of a challenge.
"It was pretty terrible," Ford said. "I mean, it's hard when they're blind, and she was kind of bumping into the walls and just very uncertain of where she was."
Brûlée's ears still work. Other horses and volunteers are already chatting with her to keep her comfortable.
Horse Haven's goal is always to rehab and rehome injured and abused horses. While Brûlée's winter coat came in nicely, her bones are still showing through. It's now important for the staff to feed her nutritious meals and provide safe shelter.
"It is so vital to have this organization because a lot of our animal control officers, they have places to take dogs and cats, but when it comes to the large animals, there's really not a whole lot of places that have the capabilities that we do," Ford said.
The nonprofit needs the public's help too.
"This is a pretty impactful place," Ford said. "It's a place of healing and trust for these animals. It costs a lot to feed a horse. When you're donating, you're donating towards their care and ensuring that they are safe."
For the time being, Horse Haven will house Brûlée, get her vet appointments and nurse her back to health. If her owners don't show, she will be up for adoption.
If you know who the owner is, give Horse Haven a call at 865-609-4030. The owner needs to provide proof of ownership to claim her.
You can donate towards Brûlée's care by visiting horsehaventn.org.