Elizabeth Steed and Whisper. Whisper has become somewhat of a "poster horse" for L.E.A.R.N. When we took him in in 2012, he was a severe starvation case (a one or less on the Henneke Scale of equine body conditioning, which equates to a walking skeleton) and had an extensive chemical burn on his left flank that was caused by his previous owner using an antiquated method of treating a bacterial skin infection called rain rot. During his slow recovery, Elizabeth very rarely left his side, sleeping in his stall and tending to his burns day and night. He did eventually recover and is a magnificent animal.
Rebecca Vaughn volunteers her time as the Volunteer and Grants Coordinator for L.E.A.R.N. Horse Rescue.
Growing up on her grandfather’s Johns Island farm, Elizabeth Steed’s passion for animals was born at an early age. Steed recalls with a grin, “My mother has pictures of me at the age of three climbing the legs of one of our horses trying to get on its back!” But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, neither modern veterinary medicine nor nutritional information for horses was readily available in the rural south. On her family’s farm, the animal husbandry practices and training techniques that her grandfather ascribed to were painful for an impressionable, young Elizabeth to witness.
“My grandfather operated under the belief that ‘if the animals lived, they lived, if they died, they died.’ ” Elizabeth knew from a very young age that a more compassionate attitude toward animals was necessary to provide them with a better quality of life and the respect and dignity they deserve. After decades of rescuing and rehabilitating horses in need on a small scale, one fateful day in early 2009 changed Elizabeth’s life forever. Knowing Steed’s reputation for success in dealing with equine starvation rehabilitation, Colleton County animal control turned to Elizabeth for help when they made the largest equine seizure recorded in South Carolina law enforcement history: 47 horses suffering from varying degrees of starvation and neglect were taken from a local farm. Elizabeth was asked to take on the horses most in need—33 horses—and Livestock & Equine Awareness & Rescue Network (L.E.A.R.N. Horse Rescue) was born. Steed founded L.E.A.R.N. as a grassroots, all-volunteer non-profit organization and, as of today, has successfully rescued, rehabilitated, and rehomed 75 Charleston area horses who otherwise would have been sent to auction or slaughter or perished alone from starvation and neglect.
Mom Savannah and her newborn filly, Rumor. Savannah came in as a starvation case, and we were unaware that she had been bred. Rumor was born right after Easter this year and is a miracle baby given that she his 100% healthy. She is a Medicine Hat Paint, which has great significance in Native American history and folklore. We are over the moon about her :)
The ASPCA’s annual Help a Horse Day provides large animal rescue organizations like L.E.A.R.N. Horse Rescue the opportunity to engage their communities and shine a light on the invaluable role that equine rescue groups play in the fight against animal abuse. As Animal Cruelty Prevention month draws to a close, L.E.A.R.N.’s Help a Horse Day will be a day of celebration, a family-friendly day filled with carnival games, puppet shows, face painting, pony cart and trail rides, musical entertainment, great food and drink, and so much more! Elizabeth and the volunteer staff of L.E.A.R.N. are hosting their party as a celebration of victory in their continuing fight against equine abuse. Elizabeth says, “Each day at L.E.A.R.N. presents new challenges. I understand why the Navy SEALs say ‘The only easy day was yesterday.’ But I also know that hard doesn’t mean impossible.”
Smarty Pants on Lowcountry Live promoting the Help a Horse Day event.
Come celebrate “the possible” at L.E.A.R.N.’s Help a Horse Day Celebration on April 25! For more information, visit their website at LearnHorseRescue.org and find L.E.A.R.N. on Facebook.