Ellie Troutman and her staff at Windy Meadows Equestrian Center, have nursed several neglected horses back to health. The horses were taken from a Trimble County farm where they had been neglected. (Staff photos by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
Ellie Troutman and her staff at Windy Meadows Equestrian Center, have nursed several neglected horses back to health. The horses were taken from a Trimble County farm where they had been neglected. (Staff photos by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
An Appaloosa mare stands in the warm summer sun with her playful 3-month-old foal in a pasture on a sprawling horse farm.

In Oldham County, Ky. – and throughout the state – it’s not an unusual scene. But this horse is special, and her foal is almost a miracle.

The mare was one of 13 horses rescued in February from a Trimble County farm, where more than 30 other animals had starved to death.

Aside from a few stomach issues, the foal is healthy and doing even better than expected, said Ellie Troutman, owner of Windy Meadows Equestrian Center, who took in the animals the day they were confiscated.

“He’s really sweet, but he’s naughty, too, which means he’s feeling better today,” she said. “His mom looks great; we’re really pleased with that.

The person responsible for neglecting the horses, Marlena Robinson of Bedford, pleaded guilty in April to animal abuse and since May has been paying restitution to the court. Some of that money will eventually be sent to Troutman and Windy Meadows farm. The rest will go to the original owner of one of the surviving horses.

All of the horses were emaciated, several were pregnant and some had other health issues. But they all survived.

Today, just looking at the horses, anyone unfamiliar with their case would have no way to know the ordeal they suffered.

But the emotional wounds are slower to heal.

“They just have a little bit of social [anxiety],” Troutman said during an interview on the farm Tuesday morning. “They get nervous at feeding time. This mare,” she said, pointing to a pregnant mare with a glossy red coat, “gets a little upset if she’s not around any of the others from the original herd.”

June, who had been the most emaciated of all the rescued horses, has gained hundreds of pounds and no longer looks like a skeleton. However, she does not like to leave her stall.

“When she goes out to the pasture, she’ll stay out for about 15 or 20 minutes and then she gets frantic,” Troutman said. “It’s hard to say [what triggers it], whether it’s just that she associates the stall with the food,” or if the horse actually fears being abandoned and left to starve again.

“That’s the part that bothers me a little bit, is still seeing them so frantic about the food. You hope in time that it’ll wear off, but it really has taken a toll on them,” she said.

June “still eats with a vengeance,” which is why Troutman and her staff make sure June and the others have access to food several times a day and keep each stall stocked with two buckets filled with water.

“You have to give them the stability” to help them learn that they will not run out of food or water. “They’re still insecure.”

Though June will live out her life at Windy Meadows, Troutman said they are working toward getting many of the others ready to be adopted out to new homes.

Three ponies with vision issues, so far, are the only ones adopted out to forever homes.

“We have had a lot of interest in people wanting them, but we’re still not ready to rehome them yet,” she said. After nearly six months, the horses are just getting to the point where Troutman and her staff can determine if any or all of them can be ridden. And, “you know, we put so much time and energy,” and emotion into nursing them back to health.

For instance, in April when the court first awarded June back to her original owner, who eventually surrendered the horse to Troutman, “my whole staff was devastated. I mean, Clarke (Vesty, Windy Meadows manager) was with her every two hours. We were sure she was not going to survive. ... But this is the success. She’s so loving; she never got angry with people or resentful. Everything’s going good.”