Horses are routinely exploited for human entertainment and greed, then tossed away when no longer useful or profitable. Sadly, the majority of these majestic, intelligent beings will never experience the freedom to retire – a simple fate well deserving of all.

In the rolling hills of mid-Tennessee sits a 70-acre safe haven for senior horses that have fallen victim to neglect and abuse. Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary is a registered charity serving to protect at-risk horses from the harsh realities of society. The farm is home to 13 special horses, including several retired carriage horses. Here, every single one of the residents has found a place to feel safe, sheltered from the cruelties they endured in their past; every one of them with their own story to tell; and every one free to enjoy life.

Liz and Mikey

Many of the residents at Ferrell Hollow Farm are considered to be special needs, as they require a great deal care to provide them with the highest quality of life. After a period of assessment upon arrival, the horses are given permanent sanctuary for the remainder of their lives – an opportunity not given to the vast number of horses in society. Liz and Mikey are two fortunate horses that found their way to the sanctuary.

Liz is a 22-year-old Clydesdale draft mare who was part of one of the cruelest businesses exploiting horses today – the PMU industry (Pregnant Mare’s Urine). Like many other mares, Liz was kept confined in a small standing stall, unable to move, and kept pregnant. The purpose? To collect her urine for use in human Hormone Replacement Therapy drugs such as Pfizer’s Premarin.

The foals born out of this industry are considered “byproduct” and often find themselves in livestock auctions and eventually headed for slaughter. Once the PMU broodmares are no longer producing at an acceptable level, they too are discarded without second thought. Most will make their way into the slaughter pipeline after living a life full of misery.

Liz was thankfully rescued from a similar fate and made her way to Ferrell Hollow Farm. Having been mistreated and unhandled for so many years, Liz is fearful of humans however she is gradually learning to trust those who truly love and care for her. She will live out the remainder of her life knowing nothing but compassion and understanding.

Photo credit: Ferrell Hollow Farm

Mikey is a 27-year-old Belgian draft that spent his life working as a carriage horse in Key West, Florida. Life for carriage horses is harsh and full of misery. Their lives are hard and often lacking in basic necessities and freedoms. Even after years of serving humans faithfully, most carriage horses are discarded when no longer useful. Instead of allowing them the dignity of retiring peacefully, the majority will be sent to auctions and ultimately the slaughterhouse.




Thankfully, Mikey’s fate took a different turn and in September 2013 he was given a soft landing. As with many horses at Ferrell Hollow Farm, Mikey has a medical condition that requires treatment and constant monitoring. He has Chronic Progressive Lymphodema (CPL) that affects his legs as well as an old injury. He receives the care and attention he requires and no longer has to serve a purpose for human entertainment. Mikey has the liberty to live his life simply as a horse.

How You Can Help

Ferrell Hollow Farm’s mission is inspiring – “to advocate and care for special needs senior horses in need of a sanctuary setting, that are not afforded adequate care and would be considered at risk of neglect or abuse, if left in their current situation.” Their mission now extends to senior cats in need as well! Take the time to learn about and support their important work. If only all animals were afforded a life free from suffering and neglect, the world would be a far more compassionate place. As Ryan Phillips once said, “Animal rights are not a gift we give to animals. They are a birthright we have taken from them.”

All image source: Ferrel Hollow Farm