“Every horse and every hound deserves to be loved unconditionally… just like they love us!”
Our finalists in the 2022 HN Blogger Contest are back with their Round Two submissions! For this round, we asked each of our finalists to highlight a business, entity, or organization doing good in the horse world. We’ll be sharing their responses this week — and we want to know what you think as a reader! Share your thoughts in the Facebook comments section.
A Thoroughbred steps off of a trailer in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where is he greeted by a group of volunteers, all conveying a unified message. You are safe, you are loved, you will never again be asked to race again. Welcome to Horse and Hound Rescue, where Nelda and Larry Kettles decided to give back to the horse racing industry in the form of Thoroughbred aftercare.
Nelda and Larry are former breeders and Thoroughbred racehorse owners. They spent 30 years pouring their hearts and souls into these horses. However, continuing to breed and race was not in the cards. After they decided it was time to quit breeding and racing, they knew they had to do something to give back to these magnificent animals. That was the beginning of Horse and Hound Rescue. While speaking with Nelda about Horse and Hound, she said something that stuck with me, “Anyone that runs a horse has a responsibility to provide aftercare.” Her way of doing this was to officially establish Horse and Hound Rescue in 2016 with the mission of finding safe homes for off the track Thoroughbreds.
Horse and Hound has created strong relationships with Remington Park in Oklahoma, along with the Oklahoma Racing Commission and the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma. These organizations help to fund Horse and Hound alongside private donors. They also have created and maintained strong connections with Thoroughbred owners and trainers. Those connections have allowed them to be the first choice for several breeders and trainers that would like to responsibly retire their horses.
Horses that enter their program are evaluated in a few areas to determine next steps. Horses are vetted and allowed to be let down from their days on the track. It can be hard on a horse both physically and mentally to go from intense daily race training to retired or a more normal horse life. Many of these horses are exposed to lots of sights and sounds and have been handled regularly. This does not mean they are ready for life with someone unfamiliar with OTTBs. Once they have had some time off, sound horses receive additional training from volunteers. Some of the horses are lucky enough to get some training from Jamie Jennings.
Horse and Hound has been partnering with Jamie for almost two years now. Jamie, a certified Monty Roberts instructor in Norman, Oklahoma, brings in a couple of OTTBs at a time. She will work with them to help get them through initial fear and anxiety and will teach them some basic skills, like well-mannered leading and trailer loading. She then provides some under saddle time to help them learn walk, trot, canter, whoa, and — most importantly — that everything can be done at a slower pace. With Jamie’s help, the adoptions of OTTBs have almost doubled. A small amount of training and love gives back exponentially when it comes to finding them a home.
All this love and dedication to Thoroughbreds takes a lot of work. And at Horse and Hound this is all done by volunteers. There are no paid staff members at the rescue. Nelda said they could not exist without the help of their volunteers. Located on approximately 50 acres, there are currently 40 horses, 15 of those are companion only (all horses have a home for life) and another 40 plus dogs they care for. Not only are the Kettles providing for the Thoroughbreds they also take in dogs that need a soft landing. This takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication by the volunteers to accomplish day to day tasks in addition to raising funds to keep the rescue in operation.
Furthering their dedication is the policy that any horse that is adopted but is not working out for the new owners or the owners have a life change, Horse and Hound will take them back in. We all like to think that when we get our beloved companions that they are with us until death do us part but that isn’t reality. Nelda realizes this and any horse she has adopted out that needs a new home has a spot with her. Just like their website says, “Every horse and every hound deserves to be loved unconditionally… just like they love us!”
Hats off to Nelda and Larry Kettles and Horse and Hound Rescue for continuing to help OTTBs and show others what caring really means. Many of these horses were in the spotlight of the track with their adoring fans. Horse and Hound puts these horses back in the spotlight they so deserve. They may not have hundreds of adoring fans, but they get a small, dedicated group that will adore them forever and hopefully a person of their own that will treat them like the gift they are.
For more information about Horse and Hound Rescue, to find out about adoption, or to donate please visit their website, www.horseandhoundrescue.com or their Facebook page, Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation, www.facebook.com/horseandhoundrescue.
About April Kmiec:
My name is April Kmiec, a 48 year old mother of three daughters and too many animals to list. My dad introduced me to horses at a young age and I never looked back. I’ve spent many years running barrels, dressage lessons and just riding. as much as I can. My husband and I live on a ranch in Texas where we raise cattle. I work as an accountant in order to fund my horse passion.
I fiercely defend my family, friends, and animals. I tend to be a Type A person but horses and animals let me destress and be me. My mom used to think running barrels and riding was too dangerous. In order to get her not to worry so much about what I was doing I convinced my dad to let me ride a bareback bronc at a local rodeo. I was in 6th grade. I did not make the 8 seconds but I did make about 4 seconds and garnered a lot of respect from the cowboys around me. Never again did my mom question me running barrels or jumping.