There were plenty of smiles Monday at Rainhill Equine Facility, where the Bowling Green Cumberland Presbyterian Church youth group painted fences and assisted with feeding horses at the rescue facility.

Rainhill is on the outskirts of Bowling Green near Richardsville and currently gives shelter to 50 abandoned and abused horses – 39 of which are completely blind.

Owner and founder Karen Thurman has the difficult task of caring for the animals. With the vast majority being blind and afraid, the undertaking can be considerable.

That’s where Bowling Green Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s youth group comes into the picture.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic kept the group from going on a mission trip this year, youth leader Jordan Bybee wanted to find ways to instill the ideas of service and loving others to the youth group at the church.

Thanks to the recommendation of fellow church member Danna Jacobson, Bybee learned about the equine facility and saw an opportunity to help.

“It’s amazing,” Thurman said of the church’s efforts. “I’ve had the paint and the paint sprayer for about two months. It’s absolutely amazing to have someone call and ask to do this. It’s 90 degrees. Who else is going to ask to work out in the boiling hot sun?”

About a dozen children and adult chaperones made the trip to the shelter on Monday. Jacobson, chairwoman of the church’s Christian education committee, had visited Rainhill with her grandchildren as a part of their birthday gift.

With the youth group needing projects for the summer, Jacobson admired the job Thurman has done and wanted to help.

“What she does out here for these horses is amazing,” Jacobson said. “The fact that she brings in these blind horses and puts all of her resources to them – to me, it’s such an amazing, inspirational thing. It just makes sense to go out and do something for somebody who doesn’t ask for help.”

Jacobson said the effort doubles as a way for the youth group members to “show their love for what God does for them in their family lives by coming out and helping these animals.”

Thurman is now retired after working for Western Kentucky University and Cracker Barrel. The nonprofit shelter began as a place to board horses and offer riding lessons.

However, she felt the need over the years to assist blind horses who are usually not accepted by other horse rescue organizations. Now, needy horses from all over the country can be found at Thurman’s facility.

The youth group also spent time meeting several of the horses.

Bybee said the group’s enthusiasm was not a surprise to him.

“We have a great group of kids. They are always quick to listen. They soak in any guidance you have for them,” Bybee said. “They are looking forward to do other projects like this for the rest of the summer. They are super happy to serve their community.”

Rainhill is run almost entirely through the support of donations and Thurman’s own money. She said the need for assistance is always present, with feed alone costing more than $600 a week.

Donations can be mailed to Rainhill Equine Facility, 11125 Hwy. 185, Bowling Green, KY 42101.

Rainhill can also use donations of food such as apples or carrots, gift cards to home improvement or feed stores and donations through PayPal at rainhillrescue.wordpress.com.

Feed on behalf of Rainhill can also be purchased at Southern States at 640 Plum Springs Loop in Bowling Green.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.