New program pairs local military veterans with rescued horses

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new program is pairing local military veterans with rescued horses. 

Three horses recently moved onto the Active Heroes Retreat in Bullitt County, Kentucky. 

They're there to get used to people and to help them at the same time. 

"Just to see the horse come up to you for the first time and have them take the treat for the first time out of your hand, it's just very rewarding and it builds confidence in people," said Mareike Yocum, Vice President of Programs for Active Heroes. 

The organization is inviting local veterans and their family members to spend time with the horses.

"I'm a huge advocate for the impact horses have on people," said Bryce Gill, Equine Manager for the Kentucky Humane Society. 

The Kentucky Humane Society rescued the three horses from the Appalachian mountains. Gill says there are thousands of free-roaming horses in eastern Kentucky. Many were left there by people who couldn't afford to pay for them after the recession, and the population has grown.  

Gill says officials decided to track down these specific horses after three stallions in their herd were shot. It's still unclear who killed them and why. 

"The horses were not comfortable with humans at all when we found them," Gill explained. 

But that's changing. 

"They've relaxed a lot in just a week, so it's been a great start," he said about the horses being fostered at Active Heroes. 

And progress is expected to go both ways, as more veterans take part in the program. 

"I feel that these specific horses who have been through trauma themselves can make a huge difference in a veteran's life because they can connect so much better," Yocum said. "Because they've both been through things, you know?" 

The Kentucky Humane Society says the horses will likely be adopted in the next couple of weeks. The plan is to bring a new group of horses in after that. 

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