CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - It’s not immediately recognizable, but “Ace” the horse is different than his stable mates.
Ace recently arrived at Heart of the Horse Ranch in Camden with only one eye.
Over the summer, he was given up by his old owner. He had cancer in his eye.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, local veterinarians, and professional horse manager Cherry Dudney worked together to heal and rehab Ace, when the alternative was putting him down.
“We decided that as his age is 8-years-old, it would be the best thing for him to take the eye out, to eliminate the problem and it would give him a long and healthy life,” Dudney said.
The coalition gave Ace to the ranch as a resource to help children. Ranch owner Melissa Ogle said he fit right in.
“We brought him out here and tested him out and all the kids fell in love with him,” Ogle said.
Ace now works with riders weekly, including Caroline Barnes.
“He almost feels like a best friend, when I’m walking around in the arena, I can tell him anything, he’s not going to go talk about it, he’s just not going to judge me, I feel like I can confide in him and tell him anything,” Barnes said.
Her mother Rachel Walmsley echoed her daughter’s appreciation for Ace.
“It’s been a hard year, I think for everybody, it’s been a couple hard years for Caroline individually. I think it came at the perfect time to watch her take something on that was going to grow her but also grow Ace,” she said.
Barnes and Ogle said Ace’s disability has helped teach patience to the riders. Rider Roxy Moak said it’s also inspired her to take on other challenges.
“My confidence [has grown], it’s a very fun thing to do. I love it,” she said.
Her mother Kristin Moak also echoed her daughter’s thoughts.
“Really these last few weeks when she’s been riding Ace, her confidence it’s just been built so much, her self-esteem. I really believe that at a young age she can accomplish great and mighty things,” she said.
Ace could live to the age of 40, meaning it’s possible he’ll be helping riders for decades to come.