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Race track to kill pen to new life: Mountainburg horse rescue founders drive overnight to save young horse

The Rescue needs $1,100 to cover the cost of rehabilitation for 5-year-old Reese, a race horse in need of knee surgery, and donations are needed.
Credit: Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue

MOUNTAINBURG, Arkansas — Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue, located in Mountainburg, needs help raising the money for a young, injured race horse who was rescued from a kill pen and in need of knee surgery.

Even though Reese won just under $30K in the short three years of his racing career, that wasn’t enough to help him find a safe landing.

Reese will undergo knee surgery on Tuesday (Aug. 10) and will need 24/7 care for the next 60 days. The rescue organization taking care of the retired race horse says $1,100 is still needed to cover rehabilitation costs.

Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue called for help in a Monday (Aug. 9) Facebook post, writing, "We have to help this guy get back to his life. Doc has very high hopes that he will be SOUND after surgery! From kill pen to new life."

Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue founders Holly and Jessica Shepherd explained that 'Reese' is his barn name and Donkey Kong B. is his registration name as they shared his heartbreaking story.

Reese, a Quarter Horse gelding, was a race horse before injuring his knee. When his racing career ended, his owners gave him to a family so that he could live out his life in a pasture.

Sadly, that life led to a young, 5-year-old horse being found in a Louisiana Kill Pen for slaughter. Everyone needs a hero, and when Holly and Jessica found Reese in the kill pen on June 28, they became that for him. They took possession of Reese on June 29 after driving overnight to get him, determined to give the young horse a second shot at life and happiness. 

"He had a nasty, snotty nose and an upper respiratory infection. He worked hard for someone else and they failed as his owners,” Jessica said. “A simple knee surgery can give him the rest of his life! How could someone say no to that.”

Holly and Jessica said most failed race horses end up in the slaughter pipeline. Reese was extremely emaciated when he was found with every rib and his hips sticking out. After getting him back to the rescue, his road to recovery began, but he didn't know he had finally met people he could trust.

"He was terrified. It took us a few days to let him know he was finally safe," she said. “He’s only five-years-old and so full of life. Reese is the type of horse that meets you at the gate, loves his alfalfa hay and can’t wait for bath time! He craves ‘lovings’ and attention! Reese makes sure to let you know he appreciates everything you do for him, and he always has bright eyes and high energy whenever you walk into the barn!"

Credit: Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue

"Sometimes those special ones come through though, the ones that you just know have greatness in their souls and a potential in their eyes that gives you chills. Reese is one of these guys,” Holly said. “That greatness is not always about winning buckles, money or ribbons for 'their humans.' Sometimes it’s waiting on the other side of the fence for a child to get off a bus who has lost everything she ever knew and being there more than most could imagine. Being there for that child and being a silent listener with loving nudges to let them know they will always be here for them and never hurt them the way they were hurt in the past."

Holly and Jessica decided six years ago that they would start a rescue to help those who have fallen through the cracks and call the ones they save “the lucky ones.”

"Horses helped us discover and build a lot of the small towns and cities we live in today. We get attached to all the horses that come to us, and we work to find them the best homes possible to go to."

Holly and Jessica Shepherd - Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue founders:

Credit: Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue

After less than two months at the Rescue, Reese is already looking and doing much better, but he still has a knee surgery to undergo and recover from. 

If you would like to help Reese, below are ways you can donate to Shepherd Mountain Horse Rescue:

  • PayPal 
  • Venmo: @smhrescue 
  • Donate cash or check: Jessica - (479) 445-8484

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