When Susan Kayne found Fudge Ripple in a North Carolina feedlot, she was headed for slaughter. Aged, emaciated, and blind in one eye, Susan raced to save her. Today, the granddaughter of Triple Crown Winner Affirmed has gained 200 pounds and sports a shiny coat, safe and loved at Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation’s horse sanctuary.
Stories like Fudge Ripple’s are what prompted Susan to launch the nonprofit, which strives to protect thoroughbreds from cruelty, exploitation, and slaughter. Since its founding in 2004, Unbridled has helped dozens of discarded thoroughbreds find loving homes. But the organization is more than a horse rescue. According to volunteer Caitlin Colwell, it’s also a place of advocacy and education.
Unbridled’s Read to the Rescues program is a great example of how the nonprofit works to bring greater awareness to the plight of thoroughbreds while impacting the lives of youth and equine alike. On summer weekends, young readers line up outside the stalls of Unbridled’s thoroughbreds, eager to share a story with one of the majestic horses. Run by teachers like Caitlin, the program encourages literacy and provides children with the opportunity to learn the stories of the horses they read to. In its first year, more than 400 students participated in the free program.
“As an English teacher, I’m eager to help kids see the power in stories, to uncover truths about systems of power, and to show them the way to be advocates in society for things they care about,” Caitlin explains. “It’s hard to put into words, the way that these horses inspire me, but suffice it to say that being in their presence is breathtaking.” Through Read to Rescues, Caitlin hopes to encourage future generations to advocate for fair and humane treatment of horses, too.
“All you need to do is hear their stories, and if you’re lucky enough to visit Unbridled, look into their eyes,” she says. “You can feel all they’ve been through and know that we must do all that we can to help these horses.”