MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A little more than two months ago, the scene on a farm near the Pike County line off Highway 221 South was heartbreaking.
20 horses; ribs showing, hot and not just hungry but starving and one young horse clearly just days away from death, evidence of an owner who could no longer afford to feed them, according to investigators that day.
"It had to do with economic issues,' said humane investigator Scott Hill at the time.
Two months later, what a difference. Monika Orendorf opened the gates to a new life for the animals, a combination of paint and quarter horses.
Orendorf started the Dusty Trails Horse Rescue operation.
Free from want the horses are obviously much better, heavier and relaxing on hundreds of acres near Snowden.
But nursing them back to health was not easy.
"It was very difficult," said Orendorf.
Let's just say Monika didn't sleep a whole lot.
"To re-feed starving horses you have to start with small feedings and make sure they can handle food," said Orendorf.
A ritual that often took place when nature wasn't so forgiving.
"Out there in the rain when it's lightening and thundering," said Ordendorf.
And yet Monika Orendorf doesn't even think about complaining. This is what she does, offer a sanctuary to neglected horses and as far as she knows there is only one other rescue farm in Alabama that offers something like this.
"It's a calling. I just have a personal connection with them personally," said Orendorf
Does she ever. A case in point. One horse found on the ground back in August on the farm is now standing on his own at Dusty Trails, the picture of a remarkable turn-a-round. Monika says the animal had the most horrific case of parasites.
"All the parasites had eaten the little nutrition he had in him," said Ordendorf.
Not anymore, thanks to local vets who volunteered their time and medicines. A new owner in-waiting has named him Doc Holliday.
"He's a happy boy. Very shy.. you can tell he hasn't been handled," said Ordendorf.
They may not talk the English language but Monkia Ordendorf knows just what's coming from them while they graze away at Dusty Trails; a word of thanks for a better life and sealed with a kiss as Monkia plants a big one on the head of a 12-hundred pounder.
The horses will eventually be adopted out but not right away because most of them are young and haven't been broken in.
Monika Orendorf says every bit of the money that paid for the grain and hay came from donations which so far has amounted to about $2,000.00
Email WSFA 12 News reporter Bryan Henry at email@example.com if you know of someone who is making a difference.