Central Kentucky rescue horse spreading holiday cheer and helping others

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 8:42 PM EST
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HARRISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Only in Kentucky and in the heart of the bluegrass would you find a horse ringing the bell for the Salvation Army and spreading a little Christmas cheer.

Hank, a rescue horse, is inspiring others and helping the Salvation Army fulfill wishes this holiday season. If you listen close enough, the sound of bells will draw you into one Harrison Co. stable.

Inside it’s like Christmas, not because of the lights or the Christmas songs playing, but maybe it’s because the animals there spend everyday living out a gift-- the gift of being rescued.

What is happening inside that stable all started with one horse.

“Hank happens and Hank happened to me and I knew nothing about horses, especially a rescued horse,” said Tammi Regan.

Regan is a lifelong lover of animals, but that love grew exponentially one day in 2012.

“I saw Hank standing alone in a muddy pasture and I set about rescuing him,” said Regan.

The Tennessee Walking Horse was thin, neglected and in need of love.

“Some trainers even said to me ‘maybe you should put him down or get rid of him,’” said Regan.

Regan thought different and as she got to know the horse, a creature she found to have a lot of love to give she knew he had a second life.

“Hank inspired me to want to help other horses because once I saw him blossom and become the horse that he is today I knew that I wanted to help other horses,” said Regan.

Now eight years later her barn is full. She has now rescued retired race horses, miniatures and even some donkeys through her nonprofit For Hank’s Sake.

“Each horse in this stable brings their particular brand of courage, dignity and I say that all of that love, all of Hank’s love extends to the rest of the herd and out into the world,” said Regan.

And that’s just what Hank does, his second chapter is now about giving back.

Standing 17 hands high, Hank is a bit of a ham when it comes to personal appearances. He visits nursing homes, and not even a little bit of glass could keep Hank’s spirit from making residents smile.

During the holidays Hank dawns his Christmas bells to ring for the Salvation Army. He has become quite the attraction with his red kettle.

The Salvation Army and what it stands for is a cause that is near and dear to Regan’s heart.

“My dad loved to ring the bell during the holiday time, he just loved the holidays and he taught us giving back,” said Regan.

Ringing the bell for Regan is now bittersweet, after making a promise to her father that she would train Hank to resume their family tradition.

“Four months later my father unexpectedly passed away and I made it my mission to fulfill that promise to my father,” said Regan.

Now, she and Hank use their time together to spread love. It seems giving love is in Hank’s DNA, and if people can’t feel it, they can see it in the heart shaped marking on his head.

“I say about Hank often the only thing bigger than Hank’s heart is his love for goodness,” said Regan.

And perhaps in a year that has been really tough for a lot of folks, we can learn a little something from the unconditional love this big brown horse has to give.

“I feel like we are really making a difference and we can offer people hope,” said Regan.

Hank actually joined our WKYT evening news crew Salvation Army Virtual Red Kettle team this year.

He is helping Sam, Amber and Chris raise some critical dollars for those in need.

You can still drop some change in our kettle by clicking here.

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