An Appaloosa named Moonshine saves a Michigan pastor

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Moonshine the Hero Horse
Photo: Amanda Thorson

Moonshine is a well-mannered, 15-year-old Appaloosa gelding who lives in St. Clair County in Michigan. But on Tuesday, July 11, his behavior was unusual.

It started when his owner, Amanda Thorson, attempted to load him into the trailer to move him to a new farm. Trailer loading wasn’t usually an issue for Moonshine, but on this day, he refused. The new farm was just down the road, so Thorson and her friend, MJ Ross, opted to skip the trailer altogether. Ross rode Moonshine down the road while Thorson and another friend drove close behind.

But partway through the journey, Moonshine stopped. He refused to go forward and spun around in circles. Thorson turned off the engine and got out of the vehicle to find out what was going on with her normally laid-back horse. That’s when she heard a voice in the distance, calling for help.

Thorson told The Times Herald that they could see a man behind a nearby barn. She and Ross ran back there and saw that the man was pinned beneath a lawnmower. They called 911 and comforted the man until medical help arrived.

The man was Pastor Leonard Barney. According to a report from Detroit news station WXYZ, Pastor Barney was attempting to unload the lawnmower from the bed of a truck, when it rolled over on top of him. He called out for help, but there was no one around. He was stuck and alone for around 45 minutes before Moonshine and his people showed up.

“He said he was praying to God, and then God sent him a white horse,” said Thorson.

The pastor’s daughter-in-law, Melissa Barney, told The Times Herald that he is recovering in the hospital with fractures and puncture wounds.

“It was just amazing how God worked the whole situation out,” said Melissa Barney. “We have been laughing, though, since we found out what happened. Moonshine saved the pastor. What a sense of humor God has.”


Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

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Leslie Potter
Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY. Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

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