OUR WORK is made of love, grit, and years of understanding what these beautiful animals need. Here’s the story of how they got there and how we got here…
In the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where coal is the main industry, it has been a long-standing tradition to use the reclaimed strip mine land as free grazing pastures for livestock. For generations, horse owners would turn their mares, foals, and geldings out in the spring and summer and collect them for the winter. There was a gentleman’s rule that no stallions were to be turned out on these strip mines without the proper management to control breeding.
During the recession of 2008, many regions of Eastern Kentucky entered an economic crisis. Many horse owners could no longer afford to feed their horses and rather than watch them slowly starve, they turned many of them loose, including stallions. These stallions began uncontrollably breeding and the free-ranging horse population skyrocketed. The problem became even more complicated as second and third generation offspring were born completely feral.
Horsemen Helping Horses was founded to help control the rapidly-growing population of these free-roaming horses. As the horses become more feral and resources on the strip mines become scarce, these horses face a harder and harder existence as each year passes. Working together with local rescues, we seek to help 50-100 of these equines each year.
Mary Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Horsemen Helping Horses. She has been the owner/operator of Dark Horse Training Center in Shelbyville, KY for the last six years. At Dark Horse, she starts young horses of all breeds and discipline under saddle, domesticates ferals, and works with owners to develop successful relationships with their horses. She also worked in the Kentucky Humane Society’s Equine CARE program for a few years where she was first introduced to the issues facing free-roaming horses. Mary Rose lives in Shelbyville with her husband Brett, six dogs, and many horses. She is excited to begin a new endeavor helping the free-roaming horse population of eastern KY.
April Harvey is the co-founder and director of Horsemen Helping Horses. Her love of horses started as a child but she did not begin chasing her passion until adulthood when she began working at Dark Horse Training Center in 2016. There, she assisted in starting young horses under saddle and domesticating feral horses. She also worked in the Kentucky Humane Society’s Equine CARE program where she was first introduced to the free-roaming horse population in eastern KY. She is a devoted mother of three and owns two quarter horses, Stevie and Angus who she enjoys trail riding and working cattle with.