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Spotlight on Nicholasville: Kentucky Equine Adoption Center helps horses in need of healing

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Posted at 3:02 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 19:45:31-04

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky Equine Adoption Center in Nicholasville provides a place for horses in need to heal and grow before finding a new, permanent home. The Center helps connect the horses to the right fit when it comes to an adopter.

At any given time, about 50 horses live at the Adoption Center. Some might only stay a couple of days, while others might spend a couple of years.

"Our whole mission is to take in horses that need help, basically," says Executive Director Karen Gustin.

Gustin oversees the operations on the 72 acres of farmland in Jessamine County. Among the 50 horses typically at the Center, about half are thoroughbreds, but they do take in any breed. Some horses wind up at the Center through Animal Control or law enforcement, after being rescued in a neglect or abuse case. Others come from owners who can't care for them anymore and surrender them.

"A lot of people are making a really difficult decision to surrender their horse," says Gustin. "A lot of people are doing the right thing to help their horse before it gets into a bad situation.

"We had a couple of horses come in the other week from eastern Kentucky. The owners had lost everything in the flooding. Their horses were 30 years old, and they had had them for 26 years. And, you know, they were heartbroken."

While sometimes it's a difficult decision or transition, when a horse arrives at the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, it gets medical attention right away. Any immediate needs are met, and any dietary concerns are addressed.

In the day-to-day, the horses are fed, exercised, and overall -- cared for. That way, when the time is right, they are ready to be adopted by the right person.

Kilie Buschman visited the Center the same day LEX 18 was there. She is from a pediatric therapy practice in Louisville where horses are a regular part of their treatment plans with the children they serve.

Buschman had already adopted three horses from the Center for their therapy program before coming back to get more.

"We decided to reach back out, and they had a few available, and we picked up two more today," Buschman says.

She adopted J.J. and Popeye.

"Horses have been my passion since I was a very little girl. So finding a position where I was able to use my knowledge in horses and be able to help people was a definite bonus," says Buschman.

A lot of work goes into matching up an adopter and horse. But for the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, it's why they keep doing what they do.

"We make a big difference in all these horses' lives," says Gustin. "And I tell people that work here, 'You will not go home at the end of the day not thinking you did at least one good thing for something.'"

Adoptions are their main mission, but the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center also has a robust education program called "Take The Reins" for kids in first through 12th grades. The Center also offers the SASH (Support A Special Horse) program for new horse owners.