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Inmates Care For Horses At Putnamville Prison

The Putnamville Correctional Facility will host an open house at the prison’s inmate-run horse farm on Friday.

  • Four inmates working inside the horse barn.

    Image 1 of 6

    Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News

    Putnamville inmates tend to horses inside the main barn at the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. Each inmate commits 500 or 1000 hours to the program.

  • Gary Moore, an inmate, kisses horse.

    Image 2 of 6

    Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU

    Gary Moore shows affection for his favorite horse, Love Ya. Each inmate works with the same horse or horses during shifts at the farm.

  • close-up of ex-racehorse

    Image 3 of 6

    Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News

    A horse welcomes visitors to the 100-acre pasture of the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. Many of the horses will be adopted by competitive riders or as family pets.

  •  Barbara Holcomb pats horse

    Image 4 of 6

    Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News

    Barbara Holcomb, equine vocational instructor at Putnamville Correctional Facility, explains the abuses that some ex-racehorses experience. All of the thoroughbreds at the farm once raced on Indiana tracks.

  • Wide shot of the horse barns

    Image 5 of 6

    Photo: Indiana Department of Correction

    Two barns shelter the horses at the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. The inmates built the large barn and renovated the smaller barn from an older structure.

  • Barbara Holcomb and two inmates look out at the pasture from the barn.

    Image 6 of 6

    Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU

    Jacob Seyfried (left), Barbara Holcomb and Jody Cordell watch the horses graze in the pasture. Holcomb works with eight inmates at a time, and a total of 64 inmates have graduated from the program.

Painting, sweeping, weeding. There’s still quite a bit of work to do before the public visits the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm.

Tomorrow, inmates at Putnamville Correctional Facility will display the horse farm they built and work at daily.

“They cut down the trees, they planed the boards, they built the barns, poured the concrete, seeded the pastures, built the fencing. They’ve done it all,” Barbara Holcomb, equine vocational instructor, says.

Holcomb runs the farm, which includes rescuing horses for the program and teaching prisoners how to care for the animals.

 

The farm is a joint effort of the Indiana Department of Corrections and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a non-profit that rescues ex-racehorses and helps place them for adoption. The horses at Putnamville Correctional formerly ran on Indiana racetracks, and many were severely abused.

The inmates care for thirty horses and tend to the pasture grounds in exchange for shortened sentences. And Holcomb points out shorter sentences are cheaper for taxpayers.

“One hundred and sixteen 3-month time cuts that we’ve delivered that have saved the state, the Department of Corrections, money. Because if they’re not here, we’re not paying for them,” Holcomb says.

Some will use their newfound skills to work at horse farms or other jobs, like inmate Mike Shelford.

“I like working with the horses. I really like that aspect of it. And then I also like the labor. You know, when I get out, I’ll probably have a labor-type job, so I think it’s good preparation for that,” Shelford says.

Others find the work helps them re-connect with family, such as offender Chris Glaze.

“I went on drugs heavy. It’s just, I didn’t realize how much I ignored my daughter and stuff like that. I could have been a better father. I was a good father, I just could have been better,” Glaze says.

Once he leaves the Putnamville prison, Glaze hopes to share his new-found equine knowledge with his 6 year-old daughter.

After rehabilitation, many of the horses will also join families through the farm’s adoption program.

The open house will be held at Putnamville Correctional’s Thoroughbred Retirement Farm from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

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