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Willie Nelson Provides Home for Two Neglected and Abused Horses

Willie Nelson
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

As the president of Farm Aid, it’s no secret that Willie Nelson is a supporter of family farmers across the nation, and the country legend also recently spoke up in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. But there’s another — perhaps less championed — cause that Nelson cares deeply about, and that’s making sure animals have a good home and are treated well. The ‘Always on My Mind’ singer recently rescued two neglected horses from an abusive environment.

The 3-year-old stallion, Whisper, and the 12-year-old mare, Traveler, will find respite on Nelson’s Texas ranch, according to the Boot. The two are still healing from wounds sustained while under the care of their Summerville, S.C. owner Dwight Benjamin McCloud. They’re currently in the care of the nearby LEARN (Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network) center, where they’re recovering until they can make the move.

LEARN’s Elizabeth Steed told the Charleston Post and Courier that the younger horse, Whisper, was inflicted with kerosene burns on his back when McCloud allegedly tried to burn off a fungus. “I can tell you that the conditions were substandard at best,” she said of their previous home. “Their area was mud and muck and there was no shelter. It was not conducive to a healthy horse. And the condition that the horses were in makes me believe that he knew he wasn’t taking care of them and they were losing weight.”

Even so, Steed is hopeful, saying she saw Whisper improve within the first 24 hours. “We believe he is certainly out of the woods. Even the veterinarian was impressed. We might have to do skin grafts to repair some of the damage from the burns, but he’s just a baby, which is good for him because he can recover easily.”

LEARN’s Eric Elkins says the horses will need time to fully recover before they’re moved to the Texas ranch, adding that Nelson will be taking the horses to the South Carolina State Capitol to advocate for the humane treatment of horses everywhere. McCloud was charged with seven counts of animal abuse and neglect earlier this month and reports say he still has two horses in his care.

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