(The previous two segments of this three-part series highlighting the plight of horses and their owners during the war in Ukraine can be accessed HERE and HERE.)
For horses, one of the critical aspects of surviving the war in Ukraine has been charities and not-for-profits providing the owners with funding for feed and critical supplies. One of these vital organizations is Fleet of Angels, a US-based non-profit service organization that helps horses. So far during the war, Fleet of Angels has provided funds directly to owners of over 900 horses trapped in Ukraine’s most dangerous and damaged areas. Grants usually range from $500 to several thousand dollars, depending on the number of horses and the situation. To date, Fleet of Angels has granted nearly $140,000 (USD).
Elaine Nash is the founder and executive director of Fleet of Angels. She grew up on a ranch in New Mexico and by age 12 was training horses for neighbouring ranchers. She operated her own training facility while in college and after graduating moved to Nashville where she built an award-winning business focusing on celebrity promotion. Elaine is also a published author of many interviews and articles.
Once she decided to raise a family, Elaine moved west to Colorado and reconnected with her first love, horses. She opened an equestrian facility where she trained and cared for many horses, including her own two national champion Andalusians. She also became a certified equine appraiser and served as an expert witness in equine-related court cases. Today, Elaine is a dedicated advocate for at-risk equines and spends her time and resources directing Fleet of Angels.
Below is a sample of the applications for aid Fleet of Angels has received:
Katerina Bielich: My horse was in Bucha. We had all the [amenities] for her, a wonderful life, competitions and victories. But because of the war it all stopped. The soldiers from the Russian side seized our stable and let the horses out into the street. My horses ran for about a month; now I have found them and evacuated. They were seriously injured and very stressed. Now I’m trying to restore them and I will be very grateful for your support.
Alina Borisova: The city is surrounded. There is shelling every day and little food left. The debt for keeping the horses in the stable is growing.
Albina Hrytsenko: There is not enough food and money to keep horses. The animals are very frightened by the sounds of shelling.
Artur Gafillin: Horses are on the verge of madness. At the moment there is no way to leave the location due to constant shelling. Provisions are left for a month. There is no light [electricity]. I collect funds for the export of horses outside the region. I need any help.
Marina Gritsik: The stable was shelled, one horse was injured, one horse was missing. Levadas [water channels] are broken. The stable is beaten. Almost all of our horses were bought [rescued] from the butchers and now for the second time they are on the verge of death. Most of the horses have lost a lot of weight due to stress. Our stable is under fire. We did not go anywhere and did not evacuate because from the first day of the war we were under occupation. There was heavy shelling. Until now, we have had no stable [internet] connection and no electricity at all. We would really like to restore everything that was destroyed and continue to save horses and other animals.
Valentina Lohvyneko: After a month in the occupation in the city of Bucha, my horses survived and arrived in a safe place. We are trying to restore their condition. Now the horses need vitamins, basic [supplies]. Everything was stolen from us from the stable. It is a miracle that our horses are alive. For more than a month we could not get to them.
Margarita Novoselova: At the moment, my horse is staying at the Kharkov Hippodrome. The situation in the city deteriorated greatly, shelling becomes more frequent. We decided to urgently evacuate Benjamin to western Ukraine. We really need money for transportation and purchase of feed in a new place. We really hope for your help, please don’t let Benjamin die.
Oksana Okhotnikova: Horses are in danger, explosions are constantly heard, sometimes military equipment passes.
Iryna Ptitsyna: Barhat is in the stable where there are other horses. The situation in this area is very dangerous. Shots and explosions are constantly heard in the stable. One shell has already hit the stable, but it’s a miracle that not a single horse was hurt. The situation is critical, as the horses are under constant fire. In addition we have constant problems with food! Finding it now is quite difficult; I have a small child in my arms who is one year old and my husband is involved in helping the military. I would be grateful for any financial assistance. The horses are in the stable, which is located in the suburbs of Kharkov. Explosions and shots are constantly heard. Despite the difficult situation, people come out and take care of them.
Valeria Shoha: My horse is at the stable in Kharkov. We have heavy shelling of the city, there are problems with hay, feed and bedding. My horse Grotesque is 14 years old; he lived in Luhansk six years ago. There was a war there, a shell hit their stable, killed two horses, after that he was brought to Kharkov and now he is again experiencing the war for the second time.
Tatyana Tsvyntarna: Our village was bombed. The delivery of food is difficult. The stable is not ruined, thank God. Please help me to transport my horses to a safe place.
Tetiana Zhukova: I am the owner of a horse named Spirit. We have been together for more than 12 years. We bought him back from the hands of butchers, I have trained him in everything he can now do on his own. (Not even afraid of the sound of gunshots and firecrackers. Who knew it would help us so much now?)
I have bipolar disorder … Since the war, my mental health has been compromised and I’m having a very hard time finding medication to keep myself sane.
I had to save my horse by riding out under fire because the stable which the horses were evacuated was starting to burn. I had the option of abandoning my horse and running away – but how can you leave a friend? I had no fodder, I didn’t have much money, and many stables just don’t want to take a horse because of the situation in the country. A good girl helped me with a place for the horse, but now there is still the problem of fodder. Prices have soared two or three times. I would be very grateful for your help. Thank you in advance. What you are doing is a great thing.
The personal stories shared in all three articles in this series have shown how truly devastating war is for everyone, but also highlight the incredible survival instincts of humans and horses who continue to fight no matter how dire the situation may be. Elaine made a valid observation: “One of the most injurious weapons used in the war in Ukraine is the everlasting PTSD that many there will be left with. Isn’t it ironic that horses are considered the number one choice of animal species to use to treat PTSD? Some of the horses we’re helping were actually being used in PTSD therapy and similar programs before the war started. I wonder how many of these horses that we’re all helping keep alive now will become vital in the therapy process for survivors of this war in Ukraine – and how many are already giving their brokenhearted owners a reason to live.”
While charities such as Fleet of Angels can’t save every horse in the Ukraine, combined with other not-for-profits, volunteers and charities, they make a significant difference. To support the horses and horsepeople in Ukraine please donate to:
Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation