Joe Mann, founder of Big Oaks Farm, reflects on the loss of Barley, an abused horse Mann tried to heal before the horse died. Mann stands Tuesday next to Diamond, one of the two horses he could save that was brought to him from North Carolina.
(Maddy Jones | Index-Journal)
Joe Mann, founder of Big Oaks Farm, reflects on the loss of Barley, an abused horse Mann tried to heal before the horse died. Mann stands Tuesday next to Diamond, one of the two horses he could save that was brought to him from North Carolina. (Maddy Jones | Index-Journal)
A horse's death earlier this month has a Greenwood advocate calling for stiffer animal protection laws.
Joe Mann, who founded the Big Oaks Rescue Farm in 2007, said his non-profit animal shelter suffered a loss recently when one of its horses died from starvation. Big Oaks is a non-profit sanctuary that rescues neglected and abused horses and farm animals across the state and southeast region.
Workers from the shelter rescued a severely starved 2-year-old mare named Barley last month from Spartanburg County. The Big Oaks team brought the horse to the Greenwood animal farm and tried to nurture it back to good health for about a week before it died Jan. 3.
"That was probably the saddest one we've ever lost, because she was so young. She had her whole life in front of her," Mann said. "It's heartbreaking. You should have heard the sobs in the barn the day she passed. Everybody was (crying)."


Mann said the rescue farm lost about six horses since it was founded, and Barley, a brown quarter horse, was the most emotional death. The mare is buried beneath a pear tree on the 46-acre farm, and a flock of doves sat overlooking the horse's gravesite late Wednesday morning. Mann indicated he was contacted through his Facebook page alerting him to the dire conditions in which the animal was living.
According to a media release from the Spartanburg County Environmental Enforcement Department, officers responded to a residence in Wellford on Dec. 28 and found the horse in poor condition. The mare's owner was cited for cruelty to animals and fined $470, Spartanburg County magistrate records indicated. Officials turned the horse over to Big Oaks.
Mann said the horse was not being fed properly and had starved down a 1.5 body score, a designation in the animal rescue world is indicative of near death conditions. Mann pointed to the state's animal protection laws as a reason for such ill treatment.
"This 2-year-old mare's death was caused by the lack of protection laws in our state," he said. "She had reached a point of starvation where there was no bringing her back. It was just simple starvation, and the immune system had started shutting down. Once that happens, it's very, very hard to get it started back up. It was, in my opinion, from lack of nutrients caused by starvation."

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