A UGA veterinarian changing the cast on Chief, a horse rescued by Equine Advocates of North GA. The local non-profit is holding a fundraiser at Sacketts this weekend, Dec. 15-16.
“It just blows my mind how hard she works for these horses,” said Cindy Decker, a Pickens-based jewelry artist who has decided to donate all her profits, every red cent, to Lynley Edwards and the Equine Advocates of North GA. “I’ve found my mission for my jewelry-making endeavor.”
Decker found a common love for horses in Edwards, who she says operates the non-profit in Ball Ground with a thunder in her soul and a gallop in her step.
“I came to her farm and saw what she was doing there almost single handedly,” Decker said, who herself began riding horses when she was five. “She has donated her life to this very noble cause. It was something I have a heart for and I wanted to support her efforts.”
Equine Advocates of North GA is a 501(c)3 dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of unwanted horses. The non-profit also raises money to support other horse rescues in the area.
Decker originally met Edwards at her horse rescue fundraising shop in Ball Ground, Horse Crazy Couture, after being approached about selling her HorseFeathers jewelry line at the store.
Now the shop has closed, but Edwards is still passionately focused on keeping horses “from the slaughterhouse pipeline.”
The story of Chief
Case-in-point, one of Edwards’ rescue horses, a Blanket Appaloosa named Chief, is at the tail end of nearly eight weeks of rehabilitation following a rare implant surgery in his front right leg.
“This is not a surgery that most owners would choose to undergo,” Edwards said, noting that the famous Kentucky Derby horse Barbaro had the same procedure on one of his rear legs. “Mostly it is just expensive racing horses that have this done.”
Chief was part of a state cruelty investigation case, and after Edwards took him home she realized he was limping severely. After being unsuccessfully treated for arthritis, she realized something else was wrong. At that time Edwards was taking a different horse back and forth to veterinarians at the University of Georgia, and she took Chief along for an evaluation.
“I found out he had a fracture that went untreated,” she said. “The joints had collapsed. The lead vet said surgery was needed and he could help, but that it would be expensive. Without surgery he could founder. They would have to euthanize.”
The vets told Edwards that while the surgery and follow-up would cost nearly $10,000, Chief was a prime candidate, being in good health and good age, and that because he experienced so much pain and abuse in his life he would be able to survive the painful recovery and live pain-free.
“I just decided to the fundraising,” Edwards said, choking back tears. “He is a hope and an inspiration. I saw the value in him, and in the future he can be a fundraiser. We can get kids on his back. He deserved a second chance and he got it.”
Saving America’s Horses
Right now Edwards has 15 rescue horses at her farm, many of which are not adoptable. She raises money to care for them and raises money for other horse rescue organizations that need it.
“We adopt some horses out that are adoptable,” she said, “but people don’t want horses that can’t jump or race or aren’t sport horses. I think they deserve a chance.”
Edwards says her drive comes from making sure that horses, an animal she calls “one of America’s great companions,” out of the slaughter pipeline.
“People don’t know that the majority of our horses end up on a dinner plate in China,” she said pointing to a recently-released film, Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed, which Edwards raised money to help fund. Edwards also recently returned from premier of the documentary in New York, where she gave one of the HorseFeathers jewelry pieces to the director.
“This film is an expose,” Edwards said, relating the story of “killer buyers” who purchase horses by the pound at horse auctions and send them to the Mexican border under terrible conditions to the slaughterhouse.
“Horses are mystical,” she said. “You look into her eyes and they are soothing and loving. It’s amazing to watch their behavior. They want to love you and they trust humans.”
This weekend, Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16, Edwards will have a fundraising booth for Equine Advocates of North GA set up at Sacketts on Hwy 515. HorseFeathers jewelry will be for sale, as well as other horse-related items.
“We’re going to have smoothies from Smoothie King and hot dogs from Downtown Deli Dogs in Canton,” she said. “We really appreciate Sheri and Josh Copeland for letting us set up there and we know it’s hard to ask for money in this economy, when people need money for their groceries, but we’re still going to work for us and other rescues who need it.”