- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

PARAGOULD, Ark. (AP) - Richard “Dick” Swann has grown up with horses since his days out in the pastures of South Dakota as a child alongside his stepfather, a rodeo stock contractor and horse farrier.

About two years ago, the 70-year-old moved out to Greene County.

When he’s not working on repairing saddles in the shop or shoeing other peoples’ horses, Swann is out on the 20-acre ranch off of Greene 309 Road with his horses.

While his 11 horses currently on the ranch were purchased, he told the Paragould Daily Press (https://bit.ly/RpvyzJ) three or so out in the pasture he picked up in “pitiful shape.”

Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston said the county doesn’t currently have an animal control unit like the city of Paragould does.

“There’s a definite need for it,” he said.

Swann occasionally puts ads in local newspapers and sales magazines advertising that he will pick up homeless or unwanted horses and find them homes.

He came across this scenario when he talked to a man at a restaurant over coffee about the issue.

“He said because there’s no horse market anymore, a lot of people just don’t want these horses they’ve got or they don’t have the money to feed them,” Swann said. “A lot of them stand around half-starved or they (owners) let open the gate and let them out on the road.”

He said the sheriff’s department has no place to put them nor does the Humane Society want to touch these large animals.

“So I thought ‘Well, maybe I’ll run a little ad and see what happens,’” Swann said.

He said he doesn’t pick up many, perhaps one or two horses every now and then, with most of them are in bad shape and starved.

“I pick up a few here and there to try to do what I can with them,” Swann said.

Once he brings them home, he starts feeding and uses a mild dewormer on them to get them back in good shape.

He said the situation will just get worse at this rate if there is no facility to house horses like these.

“As time goes by and people don’t know what to do with them…(I believe) every state needs to have some type of facility to take care of these horses,” Swann said.

Since Arkansas is rice country, he said it makes for really good and cheap feed to go along with good hay.

In about a month, he said he can get a horse back up in weight to where they look halfway decent.

He said a healthy horse could live up to 28-30 years.

Once they’re ready, he’ll try to sell these rescued horses to a good home in order to make back the money spent on deworming solution, hay and feed.

“It’s a little extra income between the shoeing and the saddle shop,” he said.

He said most of the horses he houses are gentle, as he wants something he can resell to those who may not have horse experience and won’t hurt somebody.

“(Breaking) takes time,” Swann said. “…It takes about 60 days to get that horse to work to where you can actually sell it to someone. It takes time, and time is money.”

He said before getting a horse, people need to research and recognize the responsibility that goes into caring for one properly.

“People don’t realize that horses are a lot like people,” Swann said. “They have the same aches and pains, mood swings and good days and bad days just like people do. They have health problems, just like people do.”


Information from: Paragould Daily Press, https://www.paragoulddailypress.com/

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