By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
Ben and Cortney Forrest of Conway Springs recently adopted four horses from Valley Center’s Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue and Sanctuary.
The Forrests have three children and recently acquired 30 acres – enough space to enjoy the animals, and to properly care for them.
“The kids like it. They’re enjoying it,” said Ben Forrest.
Ben Forrest grew up spending a lot of time in the Conway Springs area. His family moved to town when he was younger, and his three younger siblings graduated from Conway Springs High School. He has an uncle living in town, and his mother is originally from Argonia. His mother has also adopted horses from the same rescue center.
“She loves horses,” said Forrest.
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The Forrests adopted a large black male horse named Bosco, who had been received at the rescue center with significant injuries and allergies.
Bosco was from Texas and had been through one of the recent floods. During the flood, Bosco ran through some trees, hit one and broke his scapula and sinus cavity under his left eye. A hole can still be seen in his face.
Bosco was also allergic to the type of hay they grow in Texas, and the rescue center found he did well once he was received in Kansas and his diet was changed.
The Forrests also adopted a sibling set of smaller Haflinger horses that needed a home together. Whisper, Marvin and Dolly were taken in by the rescue when their elderly owner passed away.
Originally show horses living in Missouri, the siblings have bonded, and their adoption was contingent on them all going together.
“The owner’s daughter contacted us, looking for information about what to do with the horses. We told her we would take them and make sure they were adopted together,” said Ande Armstrong, founder and president of the rescue.
Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue and Sanctuary has been in operation for 13 years. They take in horses from all over the country. They also work with Sedgwick County to provide shelter for horses that have been picked up through animal control, and to provide temporary holding for the county sheriff’s office.
Horses come to them because of abuse, neglect, property seizures, owner relinquishments, and abandonment. Some are even bought from local kill pens with money donated to prevent them from being sent to Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption.
“We save as many as we can. It’s hard for us to say no,” said Armstrong.
This year, it has been difficult for the rescue center to keep up with the need. Armstrong says the rescue usually hosts around 65 head of horses, but can currently only care for about 40 because of a hay shortage.
“We just can’t take more. We have people calling every day,” said Armstrong.
For information on how to adopt a horse, or how to donate or sell hay to the rescue, contact Armstrong at 316-519-4129.