On November 3, 2015, The Sporting Club Equestrian team rescued a horse found in deplorable conditions by Dawn Holliday, Assistant Stable Manager. Dawn discovered Buddy in a makeshift, boarded-up stall in a small garage, with only a small shaft of light through which he could see, neither food nor water, his hair matted thick with filth. “Dawn had brought Buddy to my attention. I saw he was in really bad shape and that we needed to do something about it,” stated Nancy Johnson-Gilmore, Equestrian Manager.
Nancy made an offer to the owner; if he agreed to give the horse to The Greenbrier Sporting Club, authorities would not be contacted. “With my experience as Equine Inspector for the State of Georgia, I’ve found that the vast majority of [people with neglected animals] are ignorant as far as how to take care of a horse. They become overwhelmed and ignore the problem,” explained Nancy. The staff was taken with how sweet and trusting Buddy’s nature was; the only struggle they had, which came as no surprise, was loading him into the trailer for his move to his new home.
After Buddy’s arrival to The Equestrian Center, the task of restoring him to health began. He was covered in his own manure, which took two hours of soaking just to break through the matted hair enough to not damage his skin. Buddy never fought, he “stood there like a real champ,” said Nancy. When finally clean, they could see how very skinny Buddy was. Over the following three months his weight was brought back to normal with a gain of approximately 300 pounds, “You don’t want to overload them; they are sensitive. It’s best to move slowly and consistently,” Nancy clarified. The veterinarian was called in to give Buddy all the basics he never had: vaccinations, deworming, etc., and kept him in his stall for a few days to familiarize him with the surroundings. “We were very impressed with his intelligence and his manner around people,” Nancy continued, “It is quite a testament that he came out of that retaining his trusting nature.”
It is clear these ladies’ hearts were quite impacted by Buddy’s turnaround as they shared memories, “The first time he got to eat grass,” Dawn reflected, “Yes, I think we were all crying,” responded Nancy. “He was in heaven,” Dawn observed. The group shared a video of Buddy running for the first time in The Equestrian Center’s arena. Kelley Adkins, Stable Assistant, who has trained him for three months, was amazed with how easy it was; he is a quick learner, smart.
For now, Kelley is still training Buddy. The plan is to take him up to The Summit in the spring, with other Sporting Club horses, to start him out as a guide horse; this gives him the advantage of gaining experience before taking on novice riders. “Buddy the Rescue Horse” is truly a success story, says Nancy, “Not only was he rescued and brought back to health, but he now has a purpose in life.”