- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

OWENSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Indiana Horse Rescue Southwest’s Kathryn Caldwell and Kelsey Caldwell say they both always have had a heart for horses - something they say will never change.

“I’ve always had a love for horses,” Kathryn Caldwell said.

As a youngster, she always wanted a horse but never had one.

“After I found out they were going to slaughter … I wanted to do something about it,” she told the Princeton Daily Clarion (http://bit.ly/1qJtzo5 ).

Later on, in 1998, she, and husband Anthony Caldwell helped found Indiana Horse Rescue in Frankfort, along with three others. Then about eight years ago, there was a dire need for a horse rescue farm with enough space for about 100 horses that were being saved from terrible circumstances. That’s when Indiana Horse Rescue opened a rescue farm in Owensville. Here, hundreds of horses have found refuge. Currently, Indiana Horse Rescue Southwest houses about 26 horses, Kathryn Caldwell said.

Kelsey Caldwell also has a heart for horses - especially blind ones like the one she learned to ride years ago at her grandparents’ home. “(Horses) were very intriguing for me … different than how it is with a dog or cat.”

She moved to the farm after marrying Caldwell, who was the director of Indiana Horse Rescue. They had two daughters together, Kaitlynn, 5, and Kourtney, 3. But last December, Anthony Caldwell died unexpectedly at the age of 54. Since then, Kelsey and Kathryn have worked together to keep the Southwest rescue going.

But, as Kathryn said, “there’s not enough hours in the day.”

Since Anthony’s death, Kathryn has helped babysit while Kelsey works on the farm; Kathryn’s also worked with the horse adoption paperwork and office, and has continued to check references of those who are coming to adopt horses.

“We want to make sure they’re going to a good home,” Kathryn said. The horses that do not get new homes will be taken to the Frankfort rescue, she said.

Three horses were just recently adopted, and the adoption of a handful more probably will be finalized soon. In the past eight years, hundreds of horses have been saved.

Recently, they had to let their main employee go because there weren’t enough donations to cover the loss of income that was created from the Amends Program that Anthony helped teach, Kelsey said.

“Financially it’s draining on us,” Kathryn said.

Still, some volunteers through the Amends Program come on Saturdays. Kelsey works with them and the horses, but the job is still a huge one for a full-time mother. “She works very hard,” Kathryn said.

Each day at 6 a.m., Kelsey wakes up, puts one of her daughters on the bus to school, feeds the horses grain at 7 a.m., spends time with her other daughter and does work on the farm, rain or shine. All of the horses - miniatures, mustangs, Arabians and more, are outside right now. One horse, Rusty, is blind and stays in a large stall most of the time. Kelsey checks the horses’ automatic water, baling the hay, bushhogging, grooming, and more - then feeding them again at 7 p.m. It’s quite something to see a group of horses run to a woman who calls for them, but that’s what the rescued horses at Southwest do when Kathryn or Kesley call them.

Horses Fugit (one of the permanent residents) and Hawk danced around Kelsey as she spoke after feeding them Wednesday evening. One of them walked up and nudged her.

She thought for a moment then said matter-of-factly, “I’m not a sexist … but women are not built like men. While there are some women who can keep up with men, our bodies aren’t built to do that (same work).”

“The winter was really pretty terrible because it was really cold,” Kelsey said. There was some help with working the machinery around the farm, but not much.

“Warmer months have been easier,” she said.

The women want to continue to serve horses in need as they have for the past years, but they’ve come to the realization that moving the horses may be the best thing to do.

So, while Indiana Horse Rescue will continue (specifically in Frankfort), the Southwest rescue farm - all 80 acres and two houses - was put on the market about 3 weeks ago.

“We thought we would be here forever,” Kathryn said sadly. “Finding them good homes is the most important thing.”

She will continue to work with the horses at the main Indiana Horse Rescue location in Frankfort.

Kelsey said she wants to spend more time with her daughters. She believes the need for the Southwest rescue has diminished. “It’s not really set up the way we needed it to be (anymore),” she said.

“We did a really big service to the community,” she said, which is something they can be proud of. “We were really trying to hold on. … When Tony was here, he put everything into it. When he died, a little of my passion died with him,” she said.

“I love horses, will always love horses,” Kelsey said, “maybe when (the girls) are teenagers I can get back into it.”

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Information from: Princeton Daily Clarion, http://www.tristate-media.com/pdclarion

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