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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Horses rehab alongside offenders

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Martha Miller, Reelsville, holds her daughter Hallie up to see Eye Oh Silver at the Putnamville Correctional Facility's Thoroughbred Retirement Program open house Friday afternoon.
Barb Holcomb wants everyone to know: The Putnamville Correctional Facility's Thoroughbred Retirement Program is up and running and it needs support.

Holcomb, who is the instructor for the thoroughbred retirement rehabilitation classes, hoped to spread the word about the program and build community interest in its mission at Friday's open house at the 100-acre Putnamville Thoroughbred Retirement farm.

"I hope this makes people want to get involved," she said.

Eye Oh Silver, the only one of seven horses at Putnamville Correctional Facility's Thoroughbred Retirement Program farm to come from Indiana, looks out of his stall Wednesday. The stalls were constructed entirely of materials at the Putnamville facility. The bars on the stall doors are even old prison cell bars.
The Thoroughbred Retirement Program uses donated retired racehorses to help reform and train offenders. Holcomb has about 20 convicts currently signed up for the first round of classes. The six-month program will teach offenders equine and barn management skills. They will learn about agriculture, nutrition and all the skills they need to help retrain and rehabilitate the horses, many of which are underweight and have severe leg problems.

The six-month training will prepare the offenders for a variety of horse and agriculture-related careers once they are release, Holcomb said.

Right now the program has seven horses. The most recent addition and the only Hoosier horse is Eye Oh Silver, a five-year-old grey roan from Bloomington. Silver, as the trainers call him, was donated by Ken and Susan Kimmick after they retired him in 2005, according to information from a Putnamville Correctional Facility media release.

Only a narrow group of Putnamville's offenders are eligible for the program. They must be nonviolent, low risk convicts and have a high school diploma or a GED.

But, for those who qualify, the opportunities are tremendous, Holcomb said.

"We try to give a well-rounded individual a second chance at a new life," she said.

Lisa Robertson came to the open house because she bought and rehabilitated a retired racehorse and knows how much time and effort the process can take. Putnamville's new program will make the horses more marketable for amateur riders and horse owners to buy, the Thorntown, Ind., resident said.

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