Marceline Ballard has rescued many animals over the years including several horses. A special 35-year-old quarter horse named Chief Cane proved to be her greatest challenge – and biggest inspiration.

She met him last November while working with horses on a neighboring farm. He was emaciated and weak, leading Ballard to believe he was beyond saving. But she just could not get Cane out of her mind.

“Each time I would close my eyes after I had met him and left him there at that farm, I told myself there’s nothing I could do,” Ballard told ABC 33/40. “I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the space, I don’t have the resources, I don’t know how to refeed a horse and everything. I was like, “Oh, God, I don’t think I can do it.”

Despite her doubts, she knew she had to try. Five days after she first met Cane, Ballard hauled him back to her family’s 1,800 acre farm and began the arduous task of rebuilding his strength.

One year later, Chief Cane is completely unrecognizable from the near-death horse he once was. He is healthy, muscular and powerful in both body and spirit. According to Ballard, Cane “runs the show” among the other horses and has the energy of a six or seven-year-old.

“To come back from pretty much death, he was pretty much a bag of bones,” Ballard said. “I can’t believe he came back the way he did. “He’s super smart. I think he had a will to survive, and I just kind of helped him out. He just needed somebody to say, here you go; here’s what you need because he wasn’t getting it.”

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