By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
News-Herald Staff Writer
PIEDMONT – There will be an empty stall at Angela Bartrug’s Wings of a Brave Heart therapeutic riding center until Bartrug can raise funds to pay Ohio State University for treatment after Honey, a seven-year-old Tennessee Walker Palomino, was injured in an accident.
Bartrug has raised Honey since the horse was born. She is a favorite of the visiting children. “She’s a really sweet horse and really good with the kids,” Bartrug said, adding that Honey was injured July 25 when she cut a tendon while grazing in a field across the road. “She was standing by the gate with her leg cut open,” she said. “I tried for 10 days to treat it myself,” she said. “I used hydro therapy. As the swelling went down, you could see where the tendon had been cut. The horse was suffering here. She definitely had to have help.” Eventually she had no choice but to seek help. OSU performed the surgery and removed some of the tendon. Bartrug said Honey will never regain the full use of her leg, but would still be able to work with children and birth more foals. “She’ll be an awesome therapy horse,” Bartrug said. “I can’t get her out of there until two-thirds of the bill is paid, and the bill is going up every day,” Bartrug said, adding that the total fee is $1,300 and $80 is added with every day. She said the horse is still running a fever from the infection, but she would be able to care for her if returned. “If I don’t raise the money the only other option is to put her to sleep and that will stop the bill,” said Bartrug. “We have invested everything we have into this program. This is the first year of my project. I know accidents happen.” Bartrug added that she and other volunteers have searched the field but could not find out how the horse had been injured.
Bartrug has been running the program for close to one year. She started the program to help special needs children by using the therapeutic power of riding and animals. “I’ve been riding so long and been around horses all my life. I wanted to teach other people and share with them,” she said. “I’ve got a lot more volunteers now. A lot more help.” She added that since beginning the program she normally has 15 children per week from Harrison, Guernsey, Belmont and Jefferson Counties visiting to ride the horses as part of their therapy. “We get more kids coming in every day. It’s pretty awesome,” she said.
Currently, she is not charging for the service and operating by donation due to the state of the economy. The program is non-profit, with funds going to care for her horses. Her horses have also appeared in the Freeport Fire Department parade. A buckskin quarterhorse has been donated to the stables and Bartrug is preparing to apply for grants toward a riding rink for use during cold weather. Bartrug added that she is grateful for the volunteer help and donations she has received.
Melissa Weber, communications director for the college of veterinary medicine, said OSU’s policy offers a 10 percent discount that covers shelter and rescue organizations, not non-profit organizations. “As much as we love animals and want to help if we can, this is also a business,” Weber said, noting OSU is also a non-profit organization and is only able to help others by charging for services. She added that in most cases the policy calls for clients to pay 50 percent of the cost before surgery. She said Bartrug has not provided information demonstrating the non-profit status of her program. “This is a difficult situation for all of us.”
All donations should be sent to 71955 Horsetail Lane, Piedmont, Ohio, 43983. For more information call 740-630-6647 or 740-758-5476.