Founded to provide a permanent sanctuary for animals in need, Ferrell Hollow Farm is making the world a better place for senior and special needs horses… and cats!
Henry was in the kill pen at an equine auction in Pennsylvania when Cindy Myers discovered him online. As she scrolled through photos of the ill-fated draft, cringing at the yellow slaughter tags on his hips, she knew he was older than the listing claimed. Judging by Henry’s thin stature, ragged hooves and timeworn harness scars, she placed him in his early 30s. He was a senior, and in desperate need of sanctuary. Despite her reservations about contributing to the horse slaughter industry by paying Henry’s bail, Cindy decided his life was worth saving. She alerted her supporters, and together they raised the funds needed to transport Henry to the safety of Ferrell Hollow Farm.
Henry arrived at the farm in the spring of 2013 – four years after the organization opened its gates. Cindy originally purchased the 50-acre Tennessee farm back in 1996 when she was seeking a place to put down roots with her childhood horse. Four years later, she decided to turn her hobby farm into a boarding facility for other senior equines like her own. From there, her passion for older horses snowballed, and she began taking in equines that needed rescuing.
“I realized there were many senior horses in auctions and other less-than-desirable situations who had no one to advocate for them,” says Cindy. “I found the work to be fulfilling. In 2012, Ferrell Hollow farm was established as 501c3 in order to assist more horses who needed rescue and retirement care.”
Like Henry, most of the equines at Ferrell Hollow are draft horses – and they’re all over the age of 20. Because of their age, many have special needs, and part of Cindy’s mission has always been to advocate for their care.
“Senior animals are an overlooked population, often requiring a higher level of care and expense due to age-related issues,” she says. “Many people don’t want the additional financial burden or increased time commitment required to properly care for them.” Unfortunately, this means many aged horses are discarded at auctions, eventually finding themselves on death row. To help end this cycle – at least for some equines – Cindy and her volunteers provide a place for senior horses to live out their final years in peace.
Currently, there are 11 horses living at Ferrell Hollow, and five volunteers help care for them. Another three volunteers work elsewhere on the premises – caring for 25 senior cats! Launched in 2017 as a way to help geriatric felines in need, this division of the farm is situated in a large building that Cindy remodeled with the cats’ well-being in mind. “I love creating and designing sanctuary spaces for the cats, giving them enrichment options so their days can be spent feeling loved and safe,” says Cindy. “This allows us to serve yet another population that is often overlooked, rarely adopted, and at risk of euthanasia in shelters.”
For both the horses and cats at Ferrell Hollow, life is as carefree as it gets. This has always been Cindy’s goal. But offering this level of care means a great deal of hard work, sacrifice and, of course, expense. “Providing care for the animals is costly, and we routinely try to find fun and unique ways to fundraise,” she says. “We open the Sanctuary to the public twice a year, in May and November. People can bring Wish List items, give donations, and purchase items from our gift shop.” This bi-annual event is also a great opportunity for locals and tourists to see how the farm operates. It’s also a chance for them to witness firsthand how much work senior animals require – and how much love they offer in return.
Cindy hopes to weave this element of education into the future of Ferrell Hollow Farm. In fact, one of her biggest goals is to create awareness of the various challenges that both senior horses and senior cats face. She plans to save as many as she can, make their final years their best ones, and give them a voice by sharing their stories. “We believe that senior animals matter and their lives are worth saving,” she says. “When a new animal comes to the sanctuary, whether a horse or a cat, it’s so rewarding to give them time to let their personalities unfold, and to see them come to life again with the appropriate level of care and management.”
To date, Ferrell Hollow has taken in 26 horses – and they fondly remember each and every one. For example, there was Geronimo, a 32-year-old Percheron with a sweet gentle spirit who arrived with severely foundered feet. Siegfried, a 22-year-old draft, spent his life performing in medieval jousting tournaments before retiring at the farm, where he charmed everyone with his good looks and playful ways. His best companion, Ellie, was a stunning white Shire who was saved from slaughter to live out her final four years at the farm.
As for Henry, he passed away peacefully on February 15, 2019 at the age of 41. “He enjoyed six incredible years with us,” says Cindy. “He was the horse who started opening our eyes to the plight of discarded draft horses fated for slaughter at auctions, and it was our pleasure to give him the end-of-life care he so deserved.”
To learn more about Ferrell Hollow Farm, or to make a donation, visit: