By BRANDON OLAND
Carroll County Times
MOUNT AIRY, Md. (AP) — Snowball is a gentle white pony who seems to enjoy getting brushed as much as she likes rolling around in the dirt.
She is 27, making her a senior citizen. Her teeth are a mess, her eyesight is fading and she doesn’t move around as quickly as she used to.
Despite her physical shortcomings, she is popular at HorseNet Horse Rescue in Mount Airy because she can be silly and sweet all at once. So it should come as no surprise that Snowball will be featured during HorseNet’s annual fall fest, taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the rescue’s stables a few miles west of Mount Airy.
The free event features pony rides, farm tours, pumpkin decorating and an opportunity to meet the 52 horses currently being boarded at the Mount Airy location. HorseNet also houses 29 rescued horses at a New Windsor barn.
HorseNet, a nonprofit, will be soliciting donations during its fall fest to help pay for the $28,000 in expected hay costs to feed equine this winter, an effort already made easier thanks to a $5,000 grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals.
The hope is that new visitors will become enamored with one of the horses on site. They are all up for adoption. Those who adopt from HorseNet must sign an agreement to not sell the horse if they can no longer care for it. In that case, the horse must be returned to HorseNet.
Snowball is one of the horses on site that wound up being returned after her adopter could no longer afford to care for her. She will likely be used at a grooming station to take advantage of her gentle nature at the fall festival, Executive Director Michelle Kegel said.
Snowball came to HorseNet in 2007 from Baltimore, where she was used to pulling fruit and vegetable carts in the city.
The horses have been popping up at local horse rescues in recent years due to neglect, Kegel said. HorseNet has taken in 12.
During a stint at HorseNet’s New Windsor barn, Snowball became one of the most popular ponies amongst young volunteers, even though she had a habit of rolling in the ground and dirtying her white mane shortly after being groomed.
Now she’s in Mount Airy, serving as a companion for King, 34, another Baltimore City rescue who originally arrived at HorseNet at the same time Snowball did.
Chances are, Snowball will live out her life at the horse rescue. It’s much harder to find willing adopters for aging horses. But the hope is that another farm owner will be willing to give Snowball a place to stay.
“Recently, we’ve been able to foster some of our older horses, which is phenomenal,” Kegel said. “They are great for people with a little farm looking for buddies. We love when that happens because it shows that the horses all don’t have to be perfect to find new homes.”
HorseNet is always looking for volunteers and tends to regularly find teenagers looking to fulfill community service requirements, said Melanie Biemiller, the barn manager for HorseNet’s New Windsor location.
“I always tell (new volunteers) to look at the website before they come for the first time,” she said. “Then, for them, they get their little favorite, and then they are familiar with the horse, at least a little bit. That gives them some excitement.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)