Horse killed by lightning Thursday at a Hillsborough horse rescue.
Riverview, Florida -- Young colts still play and abused horses are still cared for. Life and work goes on at the RVR Horse Rescue Friday, but hearts are heavy.
"How are you?" one volunteer questions as he gives founder Shawn Jayroe a hug.
Thursday's severe weather brought heavy rain through southern Hillsborough County and also hundreds of lightning strikes. And one of them hit a small barn at the rescue.
"Oh, it was a big boom, a very big boom," says Francesca Nunley, who was working in the office.
Four horses were in the barn and one of them, Sugar, was killed instantly. "It's devastating, it's devastating for all of us," says Jayroe.
The Quarter Horse/Morgan mare came to the rescue two years ago starved and so beaten she didn't trust anyone. But volunteer Ruth Lukancich didn't give up.
"Every day I would come and touch her and spend time with her," she says.
And slowly, Sugar became as sweet as her name. And for those who helped build that special bond, this was a heart-breaking goodbye.
"You know I touched her, blessed her and thanked her for the relationship we had," says Lukancich, tears in her eyes.
Death is not a stranger to the rescue; some horses come there too far gone to save. But Sugar's death was certainly unexpected and volunteers take heart that she died knowing caring hands.
Lukancich says, "I'm comforted knowing she had a good life."
And like the sun that eventually breaks through the clouds and the towering oaks, the good work goes on. Lukancich says of the remaining horses, "They have food; they have people that love them."
RVR Horse Rescue is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers. For more information on an upcoming golf fundraiser click here.
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