Horse News

Wild horses in Eastern Kentucky face threats

Horses should not be “at fault” for trying to survive wherever they are.  Special interest/human actions endanger horses, and these actions are the bigger “problem.”  –  Debbie

SOURCE: Lexington Herald Leader


Horses roam free on old surface mines in several Eastern Kentucky counties. Here, a mare and foal stand near a road. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Humane Society.

By Bill Estep
Horses have roamed free for decades on old surface mines in Eastern Kentucky, but with unchecked breeding and owners apparently turning out more mares and stallions in recent years, the population has increased to the point of concern, according to animal-welfare advocates.
The horses can endanger themselves and drivers by wandering onto hilly roads, and face untreated health problems and potential food shortages in the winter.
“There’s a problem that is growing,” said Lori Redmon, head of the Kentucky Humane Society. “There are some sites that are currently not able to sustain the horse population.”
The horses roam on mined, unfenced areas in several counties, including Knott, Breathitt, Leslie, Martin, Magoffin, Perry, Floyd, Harlan and Bell.
In surface mining, companies blast the tops or sides off mountains to uncover coal seams, then plant vegetation in reclaiming the sites. That has created tens of thousands of acres of relatively level land where horses can graze.
It’s not clear how many horses there are on mined sites in the state’s eastern coalfield.  David Ledford, head of the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, said he’d heard an estimate of 3,000 to 5,000, but noted there have been no formal surveys.  People working with the Kentucky Humane Society saw more than 500 horses in five counties during a count in March 2014, according to its website.
Some of the horses have owners who see to their needs and collect them to ride. Some are tame and readily approach strangers.
In other cases, however, owners are taking advantage of free grazing, with no agreements to let their horses run on reclaimed land, animal advocates say.
Some of the horses were turned out by owners who could not afford to care for them or no longer wanted them. Many younger ones were born on the mines and have never been handled by humans.
Frank Clemons, a deputy sheriff in Breathitt County, said there is a misconception that all the horses on mined sites are abandoned.
Clemons said horses on a large reclaimed mine near his home have owners who take care of their animals and have agreements with landowners to let the horses roam the site, Clemons said.  “The horses back there are as fat as mine,” Clemons said.
It’s true that many of the free-roaming horses are healthy, but some suffer from malnutrition and untreated health problems.
Karen Gustin, head of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Jessamine County, estimated 30 percent of the horses she has seen on reclaimed mines don’t look to be in good shape.  And even some of the ones that look good could have damaging parasites, Gustin said.
The center cares for abandoned or surrendered horses and tries to find homes for them. It has taken in more than a dozen horses from Eastern Kentucky the last three years, Gustin said.  Gustin said some of the free-roaming horses are emaciated, and many lack vaccinations and proper care for their teeth and feet.  “They can be in horrible physical condition,” she said.
Many of the mined sites have adequate grass for the horses in the summer, and year-round in cases, but there are concerns about shortages in the winter at some sites.

22 replies »

  1. I’m 99% positive that some of those horses were deliberately PUT THERE – to help “reclaim the land“, as we so often HEAR suggested by “our own Craig Downer” and also due to the success of similar projects in the UK and several European countries!!! I live just north of KY, in WV ~ so I remember thinking “Oh good, finally someone here is listening!“ when I first heard about this.


  2. and almost always, those mine reclamation sites are thoroughly fenced in, at least for several years – so No one else can disturb the new vegetation (or Use it without buying) ! So IF they are wandering onto roads and other property, that’s because those in charge of reclamation follow up are NOT doing their jobs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • cssssswv, please put your comments after the article in the Lex. H-L. They are needed. Thanks
      BTW there was a horse rescue org. in WV claiming there are thousands of horses on the mts. . I can’t remember their name but in my opinion they may just have been trying to get donations. Regional office of HSUS in Louisville knew nothing of thousands of horses on the mts.


      • Barb, indeed I TRIED to post my same comment after the article in the Lex. H-L when I first read it. However, the site would not accept my entry ; I don’t know why.
        Regarding the “alleged WV horse rescue ” – I’ve skimmed back through some saved articles (unsuccessfully) for it ; yet I DO recall a few similar stories from 3-4 years ago. I believe that the “rescue” was near Parkersburg or Doddridge County, WV (if I’m remembering the same one?) and it was subsequently closed down and charged with with Fraud….. athough I’m not aware of that outcome.


      • BTW,the “rescue” that was near Parkersburg or Doddridge County, WV had MANY other issues relating to its eventual closure, and not just the involvement mentioned above, I believe. I was incredibly disheartened at the time, as several of in-laws family dwell fairly near it – therefore my 1st hopes of a nearby rescue to visit and perhaps be able to help – were dashed pretty quickly 😦


  3. As in other parts of the United States, the destruction of the land for the sake of the FAT WALLET syndrome has run rampant for generations – including KY and WV where they have even literally blown the tops off of mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kathy. The destruction to the mountains and streams of eastern KY is a crime really. Now elk have been put there for hunters. I commented on the article to the Lex. paper. as it really pissed me off. Will tell you more in confidence. I know the truth and these horses have enemies just like the ones out West.


      • Here are a couple of old articles that give more information and also bring up more questions as to WHO wants those Horses removed and WHY?

        Kentucky Humane Society And Sequoia Energy Embroiled In Land Dispute Over Wild Horses
        Posted: 12/05/2012

        A Humane Society chapter in southeastern Kentucky says it is locked in a dispute with a coal company that wants to shoo a pack of wild horses off a former surface mining site.

        Messages left with Sequoia’s parent company, Southern Coal Corp. of Roanoke, Va., were not returned on Tuesday. Southern Coal is owned by West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice and his relatives.

        Grazing animals like horses and cows have caused problems on other mine reclamation sites in southeastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, said David Ledford, a biologist who has worked with coal companies in restoring land and wildlife to surface mining areas.

        Harlan County Humane Society President Marcella Chadwick said Sequoia Energy wants the horses moved off the land, but Chadwick said her group and the landowners who leased the coal rights to the mining company want the animals to be left alone.

        “Just leave the horses alone, that’s all we want out of it,” Chadwick said Tuesday. There are about 80 to 100 horses in the area, and the animals have been around there for decades, she said.

        “It’s rampant. It’s very common in eastern Kentucky in the coalfields,” said Ledford, president of the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation in Corbin. “There’s probably several thousand horses out there that are walking around these reclaimed coal mines.”


      • Thanks for the article, Louie,. The Harlan Co. Humane Society are good folks and tell the truth. Ledford “counts” the horses like BLM does the wild ones. and the mining co. crosses his palm with silver. No doubt he’d take a nickle off a dead man’s eye.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MORE questions

        Dozens of wild horses missing, one dead in Harlan County, Ky
        August 23, 2014

        From: Local 8 Knoxville TN
        HARLAN, Ky. (WVLT/WKYT) — Workers with the Harlan County Humane Society says 37 of the wild horses that they care for are missing. They say one has been found dead.

        The workers typically care for more than 100 horses, but as of Friday afternoon, 38 of those were missing.

        Kentucky State Police found one horse dead. They say they’re expecting the same result for the other 37.

        Troopers are working with the Humane Society to try to piece together what happened.

        Humane Society workers say that if criminal activity is behind the horses disappearance, they are committed to bringing those responsible to justice.

        The humane society is trying to find out who’s responsible for shooting the horses.
        A $4,100 cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and prosecution.

        Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Humane Society at 606-573-0016. They can also call Kentucky State Police in Harlan at 606-573-3131.


    • Ashley Judd

      Mountain Top Coal Removal Mining (excerpt)

      I am very proud to be an Kentuckian. Of the many things my Creator has seen fit for me to have accomplished, there is a simple fact that brings me the most honor and the greatest sense of self, and that is that I am an Eastern Kentuckian – a proud hillbilly who traces my family back at least 8 generations in our beloved mountains

      The Broad Form Deed: One of the most diabolical, abusive legal documents ever created, as stunningly arrogant and entitled as the White man “buying” from Native Americans vast tracks of land for a quarter. In this next section, I will be quoting from : Henry Caudill, Chad Montrie, Ron Eller, Silas House, Jason Howard, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth archives:

      In 1887, John C.C. Mayo rode up in this hills with silver dollars sewn into his clothes, taking his wife in order to make a good impression. He thus bought the first mineral rights, using a broad form, which he popularized across mountains that came to called The Coal Fields. The methodology of the swindling and manipulation is documented: ”With every convincing appearance of complete sincerity the coal buyer would spend hours admiring the mountaineer’s horse…while compliments were dropped on every phase of his host’s accomplishments. He marveled at the ample contents of the mountaineer’s smokehouse and savored the rich flavor of the good woman’s apple butter… After such a visit he and “the man of the house” would get down to business and before long the deed or option was signed with the uncertain signatures of the mountaineers and his wife.” And what exactly did those broad forms say? I will read to you from 3 I happen to have on hand.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been in touch with the horse rescue org. in Harlan, KY for several years and know the truth about these horses. See my comments to the Lex. H-L about their article which is full of BS by some who want to get rid of these horses.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Here is Barbara Warner’s comment on that article – and she KNOWS.
      “There are not 3-5,000 wild horses on the stripped mine sites . Only a few hundred are there. As for being a traffic hazard what about the elk ? This article is full of anti-horse comments in my opinion and shows how little some people know . There no doubt are rare accidents but there are many right now from deer running for their lives during this hunting season. A few yeas ago a mining company wanted to send some of the horses to slaughter but a lawyer put a stop to that. Horses roam as they graze and will not over-graze unless they are confined. I think there is a lot of misinformation in this article due to those wanting to get rid of these horses.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Louie and Barb, contact your friend in Harlan County KY to Reprint and Reprise that article, stating “Messages left with Sequoia’s parent company, Southern Coal Corp. of Roanoke, Va., were not returned on Tuesday. Southern Coal is owned by West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice and his relatives” ! *Because Jim Justice* is now running for GOVERNOR of WV – and spending a lot of time and money on stamping out “unfavorable publicity ”!! Actually Jim Justice is a good man, who’s doing a great deal of good in WV, especially Greenbrier County – where my entire family comes from, and most still dwell there. I suspect that he may have More to SAY (and /or find out) regarding his possible ties to the claims made there in 2012??!


      • I don’t exactly know what you mean about his possible ties to the claims made in 2012. . A lawyer was hired as the horses were on private property that was leased to a mining co. This is not a political issue and I know nothing about Jim Justice.


    • I made some comments and Several TWEETs, quoting mainly from among the best comments. Then, I sent THIS directly to the article’s author. (are we holding our breaths for a response? ).
      Nov 20, 2015 07:56.
      subject: the incompetent federal response to Tom Davis case:
      This just drives me crazy with anger! How can all these people commit a FEDERAL crime, 1794 times, ADMIT it, and still NOT be held accountable for ANYthing?? Not only Tom Davis, but Sally Spencer, the brand “inspector“, the kill-buyer, and Ken SaleCzar, as well?? (Most still even have their jobs! ) WHY would it be up to any State officials to decide whether to prosecute a federal case, and HOW can a regional Fed simply ignore a crime that’s already been investigated and proven by the IG?? Doesn’t this make THEM guity of cover up conspiracy as well? All right out in the face of the government and the public !   WHY should any of them be protecting these scumbag criminals, even SaleCzar has no reason to cause “fear” for the local area network now; he’s probably a highpaid lobbyist for horse manure by now, but he will never work for the government again.   Surely there is a higher prosecutor to take the case when the local one is scared to DO the job that it’s hired for? Such blatant disregard for the federal law,  I don’t understand and this should never “be acceptable ” and swept under the rug! This just encourages MORE criminal behavior. Heaven knows the Feds would be jumping to convict some old man buying his cat some food using his $190 of food stamps – yet the ones who truly committed HARM to the public (and probably continue to do so) walk away scot-free??   ‎I just don’t GET how this is happening?! 
      I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  
      Connie Stone, PharmD.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As well as forwarding the article and* comments and letter to every Republican acquaintance that I could think of – because they seem to believe what the Heartland Institute prints is “the 2nd Bible ”? At least a great opportunity to expose the real critical situation UNTO a few who would never have listened before? 🙂 every teeny bit counts towards that drop that will* eventually Break through the Deluge of understanding and support for OUR magnificent wild Horses & Burros, right?


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