PICKENS — Laci, the 6-year-old horse got an extra two of her years mostly because Lexie Dumas and Cathy Childers took her in.
Dumas, a 12-year-old student at Pickens Middle School and Childers, founder of Mounted Ministries and Hallelujah Horse Camps north of Pickens, get lessons in life, spirituality and love.
Laci was about 4 years old when Childers got a call to her horse rescue operation that she now operates on Porter Road.
“She was skin and bones and probably didn’t have much longer to survive,” Childers said Friday.
It is not a completely unheard of situation even in Pickens County. In the last two years, the Clemson veterinary science graduate and long-time horse lover has taken in an estimated two dozen horses in crisis.
Those are not the only ones recommended to Mounted Ministries, Childers says. They have been the ones that she has been limited to by expense of keeping horses.
Childers limits the horse rescue to animals that wouldn’t be marketable in the conditions they are in. “We have people call who no longer are able or no longer want to keep the horse,” Childers said. “We can’t take all of them.”
It is at this point in the conversation that Childers’ expression betrays pain at the rescue operation’s inability to take more horses.
For the average horse owner, the expense is at least $200 per month for feed and hay. “That doesn’t include a boarding fee or vet bills,” says Childers.
Laci’s Pickens county owners were ignorant of what it takes to keep a horse. A 900-pound animal like Laci requires 9.5 pounds of hay per day and, if they are working or being ridden at all, grain.
Lexie is learning about the responsibility.
Since November she has gone to the farm twice daily to care for Laci. Her mother goes mid-day when the girl is in school.
Lexie tends to feeding in mornings and evenings, brushing the horse and riding her daily. It is a routine that she describes with bright eyes and an excited voice. Her mother agrees that Lexie has learned a great deal from the experience.
Her aunt bought Laci from the rescue organization in November as a Christmas present. The girl has learned about responsibility of caring for the horse, but, during regular, riding lessons and summer camps has become part of Childers’ unique form of riding instruction. She volunteers during the June through August Hallelujah Horse Camp
“We learning about riding, but also about Jesus and how to treat others,” Lexis said.
Childers say’s she incorporates life and object lessons in the horseback riding sessions. They include such ideas of servant relationships that we can learn from horses, crossing bridges and how to approach challenges.
“Horses are intelligent creatures, and the students learn through communicating with the horses. It teaches communication skills with others,” she said.
Bob Edsall owns the property where the lessons, rescues and camps take place. He is a frequent visitor to the operation. “The kids learn about life,” Edsall said. “Not all the horses make it. They see that. Young ones are born. They see that.”
He and a group of other students and Lexi’s friends were around Friday for a birthday party the girl organized for her horse, complete with a birthday ribbon, cake for people and molasses and oat cake for the horse.
Learn more about horse rescue, summertime camps and Mounted Ministries at MountedMinistries.com or call 752-5142.