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South Carolina farm donates $1,000 to Tryon based equine rescue

Lucy Grace Rollins with Pearl

The giving spirit of the holiday season is underway as 501c3 Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD) of Tryon announces the receipt of a generous gift raised by students that participate in the riding program at Maple Leaf Stables of Fort Mill, South Carolina. For the farm owner, Christie Pedder, community involvement is a priority. She encourages her students to be involved in charitable outreach in addition to focusing on improving their horsemanship skills. This year the farm’s students decided to organize a fundraiser. Equestrians Lucy Rollins, Amelia Marcoux, and Kiera Hipsher, among others, raised money by creating art projects to sell at Clemson University’s annual Ag + Art Tour. Beyond the art show, additional fundraising came from the students participating in extra barn chores and grooming horses for out-of-town boarders. They decided to send the funds to HERD with a goal of rescuing a horse. Pedder agreed to match the girl’s efforts. Her generosity brought the total gift up to $1,000 which was received by HERD on Friday, November 19.

Pedder learned about HERD’s efforts through Mary Alber, one of the trainers at Maple Leaf Stables. The two women met HERD pony Pearl, a lovely young Haflinger cross, and were captivated by her personality, good conformation, and lovely movement. Pearl, a two-year-old, was rescued by HERD, saving her from a trip to Mexico for slaughter. Pearl spent seven months growing up in the rescue, before entering training with her foster, Kailey Greene in Rutherfordton, NC. Greene started Pearl in under saddle work to find her a new home through HERD’s program. Pearl’s adoption happily took her to Maple Leaf Stables. She was the catalyst for the decision to support the equine charity in the final months of 2021 with an important gift. This sweet pony has quickly become a farm favorite at this equestrian facility.

Pedder came to be an equestrian-focused farm owner through helping a friend acquire horses for her property. Her good deed led Pedder to discover her desire to have a horse farm of her own. A cancer survivor and paraplegic entering her 50s, one might have questioned this decision, but not Pedder. Spiritually and divinely guided, she found her perfect place to start a new life, surrounded by horses and young students anxious to learn to be excellent equestrians.

“I am so blessed to be able to share my love of horses and this beautiful farm with the community,” states Christie Pedder. “The talented trainers here, including Morgan McKay are gifted instructors for both students and horses. They are also excellent role models in more ways than horse knowledge. Our program encourages students to show gratitude for their God-given world, while helping them become stewards of it. When the students leave, I want them to be exceptional people with the ability to have horses in their world for a lifetime.”

In addition to lessons, competition and boarding, Maple Leaf Stables also holds community events and private parties. Local resident Sava Rollins, and her husband Jerry Rollins discovered the farm when they held their daughter Lucy’s birthday party at Maple Leaf Stables. They enrolled the young Rollins in riding lessons under Morgan McKay’s instruction. Today the Rollins’ family is an integral part of the Maple Leaf Stables as they help organize planned events.

Maple Leaf Stables’ trainer, McKay, has had her own experiences rescuing horses. She saved her first equine when she was only 11 years old, whom she named Maggie. The pair went on to compete successfully at local shows. Pedder believes that through the horses, she and her team can be an active part of sharing within the community to make a meaningful difference. She inspires others to find their sense of purpose, while also teaching strong character values. Those who visit her farm, for an event or a riding lesson, find a peacefulness in the beauty of nature and with the equines in her care.

“Our rescue is so grateful for this impactful gift as we head into the holiday season,” remarks Heather Freeman, the founder and president of HERD. “What a grand way to celebrate this festive month with tidings of joy and the Christmas spirit. Here is a perfect example of the ultimate gift, raised by caring people. We are so grateful for their generosity to help us pursue our mission in HERD: to rescue equines, keeping them out of harm’s way, so we can find them new careers for a better life. With supportive friends and adopters of HERD horses throughout both North and South Carolina, we are blessed and so is our former rescue pony, Pearl.”

Dedicated to saving one horse at a time, Helping Equines Regain Dignity, is a GuideStar “Gold” rated 501c3. This non-profit rescue group saves equines found in dire conditions and in numerous cases, from the slaughter pipeline. HERD volunteers have rescued, vetted, fed, trained, and given these equines a second chance at life. Hundreds of horses, ponies and donkeys have been rehabilitated and adopted by loving new owners since the organization was founded in Tryon, NC.

Submitted by Heather Freeman