Foundation repurposes horses to give them new life

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By Taylor Riley

Kentucky is considered horse country, but not every horse will be on the road to the Derby. So, what happens to the majority of horses that won’t make the competition cut? That’s where the American Saddlebred Legacy Foundation, located on Eminence Road, comes in. The foundation, which began in Henry County in January 2016, is little known, even to horse enthusiasts. ASLF reframes “what horse adoption is,” according to Jennifer Hegg with the foundation. They build relationships and become resources to trainers, owners, breeders and the Amish to help rehome the Saddlebred horses that don’t fit traditional training programs. Although rescuing horses is important, ASLF’s goal is to repurpose the horses before they go through the auction process and “be proactive rather than reactive,” according to its website. The foundation works with the Right Horse Initiative, which advocates to “improve the lives of horses in transition” and “massively increase horse adoption in the United States,” according to a brochure. The initiative says that there is a lack of public education and surrender options as well as a stigma and misperception around the horse adoption process. Hegg says they try to make better horse owners so it’s a good match for both horse and adopter. Since ASLF has been on Eminence Road, the program has held 300 horses, with anywhere between 10 to 18 at one time. Some of the horses entering the training are either very young, two to eight years old or they need additional training. They get many of the horses from the Amish whose road horses are too old to work any longer. A typical day for Hegg, who conducts most of the day-to-day process herself, consists of grooming the horses and focusing on two to three to give extra attention. The babies also require extra attention, including standing with them in the field and removing ticks. “Their expectation is someone is going to be there,” Hegg said. “We have to earn their trust.” Hegg said the perfect candidate to adopt a horse is one that uses the horse for pleasure or low-level shows. The person should be horse-educated, but they will work with “newbies.” The foundation is funded 100 percent from donations and grants, although donors are their “most valuable resource.” They use all local products and labor from buying hay and feed to using farmers and workers from Henry County. “We’re putting money back in the community,” Hegg said. Although the foundation would love to stay in Henry County, they need a long-term lease, said Hegg. If you know of somewhere the foundation can hang its saddles or would like to donate to their cause, contact them at https://saddlebredlegacy.com/contact/.