Prisoners and Horses, Offered a Second Chance at Life, Partner Up for Success

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An unlikely partnership has evolved between inmates at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility and retired racing horses. Second Chances Farm in Sykesville, Maryland, has created an environment that encourages second chances, both for horses that have escaped slaughter and inmates seeking rehabilitation.

The joint venture is a reparation of sorts, helping inmates gain life and work skills while they provide care and form bonds with the retired horses.

The classical music that can be heard from the barn is a welcome change for the inmates who are used to retreating behind prison bars. Instead of roaming a prison yard, these inmates have the opportunity to groom and feed horses while tending the pastures.

The wide open space serves as a learning ground for hand-picked inmates seeking Groom Elite certification once they are nearing the end of their prison term. The six-month program teaches low-risk offenders farm maintenance, basic equine veterinary care, and grooming & exercise skills.

“Inmates who graduate from the program not only build connections with the animals, but also gain confidence and learn skills to help them seek employment once released,” explains Program Coordinator Judi Coyne in an interview with National Geographic.

Farms such as Second Chances save injured and retired horses from slaughterhouses and provide healthy and safe retirement options for the thoroughbreds. The inmates learn how to care for the horses through daily health evaluations, regular brushing, and leisurely walks through the farm.

The slow-paced environment of the farm offers comfort for both the inmates and retired horses as they work together to make the most of their second chance.

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