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Prison Inmates Operate Horse Rescue Farm

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second chances farm
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CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland is one of eight states with a horse rescue farm operated by prison inmates.  The farm gives a second chance to retired race horses.

As Gigi Barnett reports, an anonymous gift could open doors for inmates, too.

This is what rehabilitation looks like for the four horses at the Second Chances Farm in Carroll County and the five prison inmates who run it.

“I never dealt with horses, never been around them.  I’m from the city,” said Daryl Watts, inmate.

The rescue farm offers what its name promises.  After a few months, Watts is almost finished with the program that trains inmates how to work with horses after they’re released.

Thanks to a new run-in shelter funded by an anonymous donor and built by the inmates, more horses and inmates are headed to the rescue farm.

“The guys spend much of their lives trying to develop a tough demeanor and now all of a sudden they’re herding a horse and it’s a real great equalizer,” said program director Conni Swenson.

Without the farm, the horses would have an uncertain future. 

“It takes compassion,” Swenson said.  “Once they earn that horse’s confidence, they can do things with that horse that no one else can do because of that special bond.”

Over the next five years, the Second Chances Farm plans to add at least 26 more horses. That could essentially double the number of inmates who can take and complete the program.

So far, seven inmates have completed the program which trains them to work at a horse farm.

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