by Laura Johnson
Horse Helpers of the High Country is technically a place where humans rescue horses, but president Amy Hudnall said it goes both ways. “I thought we were rescuing horses,” she said. “And it has ended up that this is a place where people come to be fed. And I never anticipated that.”
A lover of all animals, Amy said that horses are different. “Horses have a spirit that is really different from any other animal I’ve ever been around,” she explained. “They’re incredibly healing.”
While horses can help heal and teach us, the horses at Horse Helpers often come from precarious situations and are in need of help and healing themselves. “Usually it’s starvation, that’s the majority of what we deal with,” Amy said. “It’s always amazing to me that people can look at a horse every day and not recognize that they’re starving it to death, but they do.”
Having grown exponentially since Amy became the organization’s third president about six years ago, Horse Helpers currently houses 21 horses. “I wanted to professionalize and create a lasting organization,” she said. “And we’re huge now! We work with law enforcement, we work with animal control, lots of people.”
Beyond providing a safe place for horses to recover, receive care and hopefully be adopted, Amy said it’s one of her goals to help horses reclaim a sense of purpose. “Horses are cool as pets, but if they have no function then they feel useless,” she explained. “They are happier and healthier if they have a function. So for us, we are big advocates for horses having jobs, and also for controlling breeding because there are too many horses and not enough people who can afford them.”
Horse Helpers has been well received and supported by the local community, Amy continued. “There are so many farmers here that support us,” she said. “If we run out of hay, they’re bringing us hay. If we need any help, if we need pasture, they’re opening up their pasture. We have so many locals that support us, and that makes me feel good.”
"Horses have a spirit that is really different from any other animal I've ever been around.
Although not a farm per se, Amy said Horse Helpers is happy to be included on the Farm Tour in order to connect people with a livestock animal, to raise awareness about livestock abuse and to highlight their sustainable practices. “We do a lot of things that are sustainable, like rotating pasture, maintaining pastures organically,” she said.
“We have chickens, which we initially got because they have been shown to lower horses’ heart rates…and we only do heritage breeds. So we’re really pushing responsible breeding of any kind of livestock, heritage breeds of any kind of livestock to promote genetic diversity.” Also, she said, visitors to Horse Helpers can move closer to the roots of farming.
“Horses are considered livestock, and they are not being cared for because of the replacement of horses by tractors,” she explained. She hopes visitors take away a new awareness and connection to animals and the farm setting: “I hope we raise awareness in general about horses, about us, about the abuse they can be exposed to, the need to be responsible for all farm animals.
“And just giving people the opportunity to feel the joy of being around farm animals and the land.”
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture
PO Box 67
Lower Level, 171 Grand Blvd
Boone, NC 28607
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) is dedicated to strengthening the High Country's local food system by supporting women and their families with resources, education, and skills related to sustainable food and agriculture.