5 min read

Watch The Moment This Neglected Horse Runs For The First Time In Years

If Maddie was a headstrong mare, the people who owned her went about "breaking" that pride in the worst way possible.

They just left her alone.

Deprived of human attention and even food, she fell into such a sorry state she nearly died from the ordeal.

"The people who owned her really didn't know what to do with her," Angie Dannelley, a director at Flying Changes Equine Rescue, tells The Dodo. "She was kind of one of those really strong horses who needed experience."

And what did Maddie get instead?

"They basically left her to starve."

When rescuers found Maddie on that western Pennsylvania farm two years ago, she was declared the worst case the rescue had ever seen.

Too weak to even stand, Maddie collapsed in her stall as soon as she arrived at the sanctuary.

Flying Changes Equine Rescue

In the days ahead, her hooves, gnarled and painfully neglected, were treated with epoxy, specialized shoes and other costly measures aimed at getting her back on her feet.

"We wanted her feet to get stronger," Dannelley says.

Flying Changes Equine Rescue

At the very least, with the bones in her feet practically disintegrated, she wasn't expected to walk on them again.

Flying Changes Equine Rescue

It took two years of patiently waiting for her hooves to grow out and the damaged bones in her feet to stabilize. At last, the group's farrier decided to take a risk and remove her shoes.

Flying Changes Equine Rescue

At one point, Maddie was unleashed without shoes of any kind.

A little later, she was brought to a pasture, along with a couple of her friends. Her gait was seamless.

A week ago, Maddie's farrier approved a romp in the big field.

As you can see in the video below, she ran with that moment, literally.

"It brings tears to our eyes," Dannelley says. "She has become a completely different horse. And this isn't just about her feet.

"She went from the horse no one really wanted to work with to a barn favorite," Dannelley notes. "She's turned into a sweetheart. She loves to be hugged and kissed and cuddled."

Love, it seems, finally brought her around.

Flying Changes Equine Rescue

Although Maddie will never be ridden again - the 10-year-old's hooves will always be too damaged for a passenger - she is looking for a home.

Preferably, with room to run. But not too much.

If you think you can give Maddie that home, get in touch with Flying Changes Equine Rescue through its website. Or, consider, supporting its mission to help hundreds of animals in need by making a donation here.