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Unbroken spirit of Appalachia: Volunteers become guardian angels to wild horses in eastern Kentucky

Among abandoned coal mines in the mountains of Kentucky, horses roam free in horse heaven - with a group of volunteers acting as their guardian angels.

JACKSON, Ky. — If Louisville is the heart of Kentucky, then the Appalachian region is the soul of the Bluegrass.

"This is where the horses hang out — a lot of them," said Ginny Grulke, executive director of the Appalachian Horse Project.

Among the foothills and hollows of Appalachia, herds of horses roam free. As the coal jobs declined and the economy took a downturn in 2008, stallions that were not neutered were released.

Since then, populations have soared.

Credit: whas11

The nonprofit was staffed with volunteers to watch over and care for sick and injured wild horses.

"It is so gratifying to take a horse that is literally starved to death and bring back and see how they change over the months and get back to normal happy horse and then go on and do what they were meant to do," Bernice Amburgey said.

She is the welfare manager and treasurer of the Appalachian Horse Project.

The organization also makes sure herd sizes stay sustainable and the horses stay out of trouble on the roads and in farmers' corn crops.

You can support this tradition and take a tour to see them for yourself.

"I go home to my horse who has to stay in a pasture, and I say, ‘I’m so sorry that you have to stay in this box,'" Grulke said.

Learn more about the unbroken spirit tucked in the mountains Monday, May 24 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

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