Horses Require Rescue as Georgia Drought Persists

Pasture i i

hide captionHorses that are rescued end up at the Northwind Equestrian Center in Cherokee County, northeast of Atlanta. This is one of the largest horse rescue operations in the Southeast. The farm takes in animals that have been abandoned.

Kathy Lohr, NPR
Pasture

Horses that are rescued end up at the Northwind Equestrian Center in Cherokee County, northeast of Atlanta. This is one of the largest horse rescue operations in the Southeast. The farm takes in animals that have been abandoned.

Kathy Lohr, NPR
Horses i i

hide captionCheryl Flannigan, founder of the Northwind Equestrian Center, and volunteer Henry Patton, work with about 90 horses they have rescued. The drought, the high cost of hay and difficult economic times have forced many to give up their horses.

Kathy Lohr, NPR
Horses

Cheryl Flannigan, founder of the Northwind Equestrian Center, and volunteer Henry Patton, work with about 90 horses they have rescued. The drought, the high cost of hay and difficult economic times have forced many to give up their horses.

Kathy Lohr, NPR

As a record drought persists in the Southeast, residents have realized they can no longer properly care for their animals. Horses, in particular, are being turned in to a rescue operation in north Georgia.

Just outside Atlanta in the hills of Cherokee County is the Northwind Equestrian Center, one of the largest horse rescue operations in the Southeast. Cheryl Flannigan opened this horse rescue in 1998 after she and her husband moved here from Florida. They started with a boarding operation, decided they didn't like it and then began rescuing horses instead.

Flannigan has about 90 horses on her farm. Most are here because of the drought or because the owners lost their farms. Flannigan says that many people call and beg her to pick up their animals.

One extra expense has been the cost of hay. Usually, horses graze on grass most of the year. But the drought burned out fields and limited what hay farmers have been able to produce.

Instead of buying a small amount of hay for three months, owners had to purchase extra food for nine months.

But the price of a square bale has doubled from a year ago to $9. And with gas prices up, the cost of getting the hay to farms is also more expensive.

Now, some horses are being abandoned in fields or left with friends who aren't equipped to care for them.

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