Georgia Department of Agriculture

Articles of Interest

Who's helping whom?

Unique rescue program puts the responsibility for rehabilitating abused horses into the hands of imprisoned women

By Amy H. Carter

The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Equine Division partnered with Arrendale State Prison for women in Alto six years ago to create the Arrendale Equine Center. The center pairs inmates with impounded horses after they’ve been evaluated and stabilized at the department’s Mansfield Barn, the first stop on the journey back to health for neglected, abused and abandoned equines. Once their rehabilitation is complete, the horses are sold at special auctions held approximately twice a year at the prison. The women assigned to work at the center show the horses in the auction ring and offer potential buyers insight into the animals’ unique personalities. Become a subscriber to read this and other articles

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Ellie Tracy
MAT Thompson, center, manager of the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Equine Program, announces the start of the Equine Auction March 25 at Arrendale State Prison in Alto. At left is auctioneer Zach Hill. Inmate Gina Shropshire, an employee at the Arrendale Equine Center, is at right. Georgia Department of Corrections Officer Tracy Holly spends a few moments before the auction with Ellie, a 17-year-old Appaloosa mare that was rescued from a neglectful owner in McIntosh County. Holly and the inmates assigned to the Arrendale Equine Center in Alto helped to nurse the starved horse back to health. She fetched the highest price of the day during an auction at the center March 25.
Flag Horse In Ring
Georgia Corrections Capt. Dennis Gallman and his daughter, Marley, 7, present the flag for the pledge of allegiance prior to the start of the auction with the help of Apachee, a pony Gallman purchased in a previous auction at the prison. Capt. Dennis Gallman, who oversees the operation of the equine center at Arrendale State Prison in Alto, rides Fancy into the auction ring. Fancy is an 20-year-old buckskin mare seized by the state from a neglectful owner and rehabilitated by inmate employees at the prison.
Mason 2 Suzalee and Chief2
Capt. Dennis Gallman leads June, a six-year-old jenny donkey, into the auction ring with his five-year-old son Mason in the saddle. June was one of three donkeys rehabilitated at the center and sold at auction March 25. Suzalee Watkins poses with Chief, a 20-year-old fleabitten grey gelding impounded by the state. Watkins helped to rehabilitate Chief, the first horse she ever rode.
Warden Kennedy Suzalee Dennis
Arrendale State Prison Warden Kathleen Kennedy with her auction number March 25. Warden Kennedy buys horses that are not yet fully rehabilitated, helping to cover the expense of their stay at the prison so that they may be auctioned later to new owners. Suzalee Watkins rides Ellie into the auction ring. This was Watkins' first time riding the horse. She cried when the horse was sold.

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