At the ASPCA, helping horses isn’t just something we preach—it’s something we practice in our work every single day. Intelligent, sensitive, and true American icons, horses have been at the heart of our mission since the very beginning, and in honor of our second annual National Help a Horse Day on April 26, we wanted to share the amazing story of Benny.
We first heard about Benny from our friends Joyce and Nona at Last Stop Horse Rescue in Prentiss, Maine. Last Stop is the recipient of an ASPCA grant: every three weeks, our grant funds the delivery of 20 bales of hay to Last Stop to feed the rescued horses.
We recently checked in with Last Stop, and that’s when they told us Benny’s story. Starved, emaciated and close to death, Benny arrived at Last Stop in August 2013. The four-year-old gelding showed clear signs of abuse and neglect, and was so weak that he could not stand on his own legs. The day of his arrival, he weighed just 562 pounds.
The staff at Last Stop spent several days trying to keep Benny standing, but ultimately, the best option was to place him in a sling hanging from a beam in the barn. At the recommendation of Dr. Ron Miles Benny was introduced to food slowly and in small amounts.
Slowly but surely, Benny gained strength. Over the 12 days that he was in the sling, Joyce says “we saw improvement each day with signs of brighter eyes, moving his feet more, and being able to consume more of the food that was being offered to him.” The team at Last Stop fed him every hour around the clock, setting an alarm to ensure that he got meals throughout the night as well.
After nearly two weeks in a sling, Benny stood for the first time on August 15. It was a joyous day for all involved.
It has now been over six months since Benny arrived at Last Stop. He currently weighs 930 pounds, and uses his newfound strength to gallop around the pasture with his fellow horses. Despite years of abuse and neglect, Joyce says, “Benny is our miracle boy. Food and love was all he needed.”
Stories like Benny’s are what inspired us to create National Help a Horse Day. All too often, these amazing animals are mistreated, neglected, or even sent to slaughter. The ASPCA is determined to spread education and activism on behalf of equines everywhere, and Benny is proof that every horse is worth helping. Looking back at Benny’s recovery, Joyce says, “This is what you have done for these horses with the grant from the ASPCA. Thank you!”
To see Benny in action, please watch Last Stop Horse Rescue’s video of his recovery. Be sure to visit our Help a Horse page for information about events in your community. The ASPCA is awarding $10,000 grants to the top five equine organizations whose events inspire the most community engagement and support.