BOZEMAN – The Gallatin Valley community came together to save 28 horses that were left without the proper amount of food, water and care.
About a month ago, Donny Rigel lost his wife Laura Frederick to a heart attack. She died in his arms.
“It’s, yeah it’s tough. It’s tougher than hell. I have been dealing with this for a long time. My wife’s health just kind of cratered and she just….she died,” said Rigel.
Overcome with grief, he was left with 43 horses that he could not take care of alone. The horses no longer had the food, water or care that they needed.
Neighbors Anna Jespersen and Katrina Neill saw what was happening with the horses and decided they needed to step in and get help. They reached out to the Equis Save Foundation, which was started last year by a group of women who all shared an interest in rescuing horses.
“From kill pen situations or situations like this where it is just a bad set of circumstances where the lady has passed away and her horses are in desperate need of care,” said Foundation member Tara Munroe.
Concerned about the health of the horses, the foundation reached out to the community for help. Montana Equine Rescue and Horse Haven provided hay, feed and alfalfa for the horse and 15 volunteers came and took care of the horses each day.
Hardaway Veterinarian Hospital doctors donated their time to geld stallions. Veterinarian Stacie Boswell even came in on her day off to perform the surgeries on the horses. She says she has worked in multiple states across the country and has seen numerous accounts of horse neglect.
“Every state that I have been in, there are horses that need help and so this is a problem that has happened across the United States. About half of horse owners have an annual household income of less than $50,000,” said Boswell.
Out of the 43 horses, Donny plans on keeping two. He sold some of the horses before the remaining 28 were rescued.
The rescued horses will go to foster homes while the Equis Save Foundation works on finding them a permanent home.
Most of the horses are still available for adoption.