Karen Boyd and her daughter, Aimee, 10, have long dreamed of having a horse of their own, but Boyd was determined to do it the right way. That’s why when she saw Riker listed as an occupant of a kill pen on a Facebook horse rescue group, she knew she had to save him.
“It was a matter of $300 that was left to save him from slaughter,” Boyd recalls. “I just couldn’t let him go. I’ve seen too many horses that haven’t found homes and that night, I just couldn’t let him go.”
That was Oct. 24. Boyd said many of the horses who aren’t rescued are sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada for consumption, which is illegal in the U.S. As of now, Riker is quarantined at a rescue in Peabody, Kan. Once his quarantine is up —typically about 30 days — he’ll be sent home to Nebraska.
“I really felt strongly about wanting to rescue a horse,” Boyd said. “It’s my goal to continue rescuing as many as I can. If I can get people to start backing, it’d be my hope to continue in that area.”
Though Riker’s life has been saved, he still has many other expenses. Boyd has set up a GoFundMe online fundraising page to help with Riker’s medical expenses and to fund her continued horse rescue efforts. Once Riker was acquired by the rescue in Peabody, he was found to have strangles, a contagious upper respiratory infection and was malnourished and underweight.
Boyd’s initial plan was to board Riker at Prairie Gem Stables in Omaha, where her daughter takes riding lessons. Due to Riker’s highly-contagious condition, he will need to stay at the family’s home and away from other horses he might infect.
“It’s been tugging at my heartstrings,” Boyd said. “If I can get this one horse rescued, then maybe I can do more and help other horses. That’s really what the intent was to get contributions to help toward the transportation, the vet bills, the training and some of the other unknowns.”
Once Riker makes it home to Blair, it’s still unclear whether he will be able to ride. No paperwork is available, but Boyd said they estimate that he’s only about six years old. Riker has been eating and drinking, which is a good sign.
“I’m really so excited,” she said. “You see pictures of him the day he was picked up from the kill pen, and he looked so sad and defeated. To be able to give him a home, he’s going to have more love and attention than he knows what to do with when he gets here.”
Boyd estimates Riker’s arrival in Nebraska will happen sometime near the end of the month. Her hope is for her daughter to be able to ride him one day, but his level of training is unclear, and it’s likely that he will require a good deal of rehabilitation.
“A lot of people don’t want to rescue because they assume the horses have too many problems or they’re old or whatever reason,” Boyd said. “The sad reality is that a lot of these horses are colts and fillies. They have their whole lives ahead of them but have ended up in these kill pens. There are some that can’t be rehabilitated, but there are infinitely more — others that through proper care are perfectly suitable for any type of riding that you’d want to do.”
For more information, visit gofundme.com/4mdvs20