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Neglected horses find serenity at Louisa sanctuary

Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8:00 am

Rhondavena LaPorte spends time with some of the feral horses that have been brought to Serenity Farm Sanctuary.

Rhondavena LaPorte spends time with some of the feral horses that have been brought to Serenity Farm Sanctuary.

Horses, like any other animal, require a lot of love and care to thrive domestically. And, as with other animals, not everyone is up to the task of caring for one. But some horses who have been in those situations have since found a new home at the Serenity Farm Equine Sanctuary in Louisa.

Owned and operated by Bill and Rhondavena LaPorte, the sanctuary was put on the map last November when it was verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

To become verified by the GFAS, the LaPortes had to meet a strict set of standards and pass a vigorous review process.

The process started seven months earlier, in April. Bill heard of saddlebred horses that had been seized in Lunenburg County in 2012, but had not been caught.

“They were living on about 800 acres and were completely feral,” Rhondavena said. “And what we were told was three saddlebreds turned out to be six – three stallions and three mares, and one of the mares had a colt, so there were actually seven horses.”

The LaPortes were able to bring the horses back to their farm and are in the process of retraining them. After other attempts to round up the horses had been unsuccessful, they took a more subtle approach to bringing them home.

“We went out there every weekend for about six weeks,”  she said. “We let them come to us and we loved on them and just tried to earn their trust.”

Other horses come to the shelter after being rescued from neglectful homes. Some are available for adoption, and others are permanent residents of the sanctuary. When neglected horses are rescued, their health is rated on a ‘body condition’ score from zero to nine, nine being the healthiest.

“Several of the horses we have that came to us were scored at one or two,” Bill said. “With horses, you don’t see a lot of abuse. Usually, when a horse is seized, it’s a neglect issue, either from them not getting food, or having medical issues that are left untreated.”

In addition to the 17 horses living at Serenity Farm, the sanctuary also hosts three rescued donkeys.

To read the entire story, see the Jan. 12 edition of The Central Virginian.