Many New York State Police horses are rescues that were just days away from slaughter.
Gunner, a 21-year-old police horse, was a racehorse who was sold to the Amish to be a buggy horse.
After an injury, he was sold for his meat price until a New York State trooper rescued him.
Gunner is just one of the horses rescued by New York state investigator Mary Elana Moran.
Most of the horses are moments away from being shipped off to slaughter when Moran rescues them.
When they arrive at her barn, she has to figure out a way to navigate through their trauma.
“The first thing that I do when I rescue them is I sit in their stall every day and I read them a book, so they become accustomed to a familiar, kind voice, like life is different now. I serve them every meal, I take them out to the pasture to have grass. I show them consistently that life is different,” Moran says.
Then she begins training to prepare them to be police horses.
“To be a police horse, you have to be a friendly character, they get loved hugged and kissed by children every day. They have to be exposed to sights and sounds and touch that most normal horses would be concerned about. It’s in their nature actually to say, ‘OK, I don’t know what that is, it’s pretty loud and scary I’m going to go in the other direction.’ But police horses go towards all those things,” Moran says.
Every horse trains at a different pace. When they’re ready, they put on their badge and get to work. Their primary job is to interact with the community.
“I have been approached by thousands of people who would’ve never come up to me other than the fact that I’m sitting on this beautiful horse, right? So then, I just gained a new friend who knows that I care about their quality of life and that I’m a human being up here in this uniform and it humanizes law enforcement. So the power of the horse really is the ultimate community outreach tool,” Moran says.
In learning the story of the horses, there is a valuable life lesson to be learned as well.
“They show the power of believing in a life and the changes that can happen when you take something that’s been thrown away, discounted physically and mentally thrown away, treated like trash, to the ultimate rescue transformation to being a brave confident police horse,” Moran adds.