'Saving and protecting'
Five months ago, Ormond Beach residents Susanna and Phil Raymond were alerted to a former Louisiana race horse left abandoned on a pasture.
At 12 years old, he was starved, underweight by at least 600 pounds and with soft and cracked hooves. The Raymonds didn't think he would make it, but after months of rehab and care, Glenn would prove them wrong. Now, he's put on a healthy weight and spends his days grazing with the Raymonds' other horses on their property.
“He’s come so far," Susanna Raymond said. "You would never believe it was the same horse.”
Glenn is just one of the 22 horses the Raymonds house. The couple runs a non-profit horse rescue in Ormond Beach named "S&P Stables Inc," and while the organization has only been registered as a non-profit for a year and a half, the Raymonds have been fostering horses for the last seven years.
“We work hard to try to make a good home for these horses and if they don’t get adopted, we try everything possible to get them what they need here."
Susanna Raymond, founder of S&P Stables Inc and horse rescue
The hope is always to rehab the horses, some of which come from abusive households, and adopt them out to caring individuals. In some cases, that's not always possible, but that doesn't mean the Raymonds won't take them in.
Twenty-six-year-old Cheyenne was a professional show horse before she arrived at S&P Stables. Her previous owner was a 26-year-old woman with spina bifida. Before she passed away, she used to ride Cheyenne every day with the help of an oxygen tank.
Cheyenne now has cancer and will live out the rest of her days with the Raymonds.
“We work hard to try to make a good home for these horses and if they don’t get adopted, we try everything possible to get them what they need here," Susanna Raymond said.
Then there's Princess Marie, a 12-year-old Arabian mare who used to be regularly beaten by wood planks. She now allows the Raymonds to nuzzle her forehead, but only briefly.
“Everybody said ‘put her down, put her down,'" Susanna Raymond said. "We wanted to give her the opportunity to know what love is about.”
It hasn't been easy. Financial help for the horse rescue has been dwindling, which has forced Susanna Raymond to go back to work
full-time. Their feed bill comes in at $250 a week, and this doesn't include any supplements, medications or bedding needed to take care of the horses.
She said they receive daily calls to take in horses, but at this point, they're not financially able to. Unlike race and show horsing organizations, they don't receive sponsorships from feed stores or veterinary clinics.
“Financially, we’re kind of on our own," Susanna Raymond said.
The Raymonds have even sold their truck to keep the stables open.
Susanna has also had to overcome challenges in her own life. She beat cancer in 2000. In 2001, she was diagnosed with primary lateral sclerosis and was told that she would be in a wheelchair within five years.
Susanna Raymond has beat those odds.
“This is kind of like my therapy to keep me going," she said.
Initially, S&P stood for Susanna and Phil, but the initials have since taken on a new meaning: Save and Protect.
Glenn is an example of what the Raymonds do. When Susanna Raymond whistles for him across the field, he loyally comes over to nuzzle her. She calls him her "cuddle-bunny" and kisses his head.
“He’s a big boy, and he’s the sweetest thing you could ever imagine," Susanna Raymond said. "It’s like he knows that he was saved.”