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Wild horses present challenges in Southern WV coalfields


Charleston Gazette-Mail

A herd of horses walk along the side of a road in Mingo County. In the winter, horses wander down from mine land in southern West Virginia, where they can pose a danger to drivers and themselves if they get in the roadway, according to Tinia Creamer, founder of Heart of Phoenix.
(Heart of Phoenix submitted photo)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In Mingo County, road signs warn drivers to beware of a somewhat unexpected risk — wild horses in the roadways.

There are hundreds of these horses in Mingo alone — only a fraction of the total amount wandering around the southern coalfields, according to Tinia Creamer, founder of Heart of Phoenix, a West Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and rehabbing horses in Appalachia. For years, horses have roamed abandoned mine sites in the region, taking advantage of the thousands of acres of flat land left by mountaintop removal sites, she said.

“This often gets glorified — groups and organizations present it as a boon for tourism, but that’s not very accurate at all,” she said. “In reality, it’s never been a good situation — not for the horses, not for the environment and, a lot of times, not for the people.”

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