WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 15, 2013, 10:25 PM

Milnor man reunited with horse after unfortunate time

Milnor, ND (WDAY TV) - We begin with a heart-warming story about an incredible reunion between a man and his horse.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Milnor, ND (WDAY TV) - We begin with a heart-warming story about an incredible reunion between a man and his horse.

We have all heard the disturbing story out of western North Dakota, more than a hundred horses found dead from neglect. Many more sick, starved and hurting.

But out of that dark story is a homecoming near Milnor, North Dakota of a horse and her savior.

In a cold, biting wind, a warm, welcoming whistle. Gary Bernhardt calling his horse, Pepper. A mare on the mend.

Pepper has been back on the farm in rural Milnor, after a tearful reunion and rescue out west.

Pepper was one of the many horses left for dead. When authorities found her, she was pregnant, barely alive.

Gary heard Pepper was in the rescued group, and went out west to get her.

Now the back-story on Pepper is just as heart-warming as the reunion. You see a year ago, Pepper was sold as part of a fundraiser for Roger Maris Cancer and Gary had lost track of her until he heard about the tragedy out west.

Gary Bernhardt, Owner of Pepper: “The things I seen out there pretty grotesque if you don't have a strong stomach don't go out there. There were a couple of them, I broke down they were sad and in pain.”

And so, there was no question, Gary had to try anything to get Pepper back.

Bernhardt: “No horse should have to go through that, it is just hard.”

And give her a chance to survive.

Bernhardt: “I was standing there and petting her and she had her head on her chest and for or five came up, I felt like the pied piper.”

It has been tough.

Bernhardt: “I tell you what, on the ride home, smiles and a lot of tears.”

Slowly, Gary and his vet are working together to get Pepper on the mend.

Bernhardt: “Fed twice a day, every day. Sometimes three.”

It is tender loving care, something only a horse and her handler can explain.

Bernhardt: “When I found out that she was one of them, I made a lot of phone calls and I did not stop.”

A beautiful relationship. A quarter horse who has this man to thank for saving her. The admiration is mutual. Gary cannot think of a better ending for the story. Pepper is alive, home and this spring, will give birth to a foal. From rural Milnor,

A 6 year old girl from New York donated her life savings to helping save the rescued horses.

Gary hopes to take Pepper's colt this spring, sell it at the next Cowboy Up Cancer Benefit for Roger Maris, and dedicate the donation in honor of that 6-year-old.