'Couldn't have done it without each other': Rescue farm sets teen and horse out on fresh path
A horse farm in Wilton proved to be a hitching post on a path to a better life for a young woman who was in a dark place -- and for a troubled rescue horse.
Rising Starr Horse Rescue houses abused and injured animals. It also provides them with a chance at a better life.
One such horse, named Lilith, had been slated for slaughter.
“When Lilith came in, she would truly try to hurt humans because she had been so hurt,” says horse farm founder Kelly Stackpole. "She would shake and really try to kick you to put you in the hospital or kill you."
Then Lilith met 16-year-old Kylie Topalian, of Wilton.
“So I had a lot of things in common with this horse…We didn’t click right away,” says the teenager. “I had a lot of anxiety. I was in a very dark place when I found her.”
As Topalian got to know Lilith, something shifted.
“I was suffering from anorexia and I was not strong enough for her,” says Topalian.
Topalian's mother tells News 12 the two connected on a different level. “We found this horse that had been beaten and starved and abused and was going through a lot of the same things she went through,” says Andrea Topalian.
Topalian, a show ring dropout, dreamed of riding again. But when she was at the peak of her illness, she didn't have the strength or energy.
The 16-year-old went away to treatment and returned 25 pounds heavier.
“I worked on myself so hard for her,” says Topalian. “I came back and we just started every day…being here with her, sitting in her stall for hours.
She was laying down and I came to sit with her and she just put her head on my lap.”
On June 23, the teenager finally got her chance to ride. “I said, ‘Can we get on her?' Because I felt like this was the right moment,’” recalls Topalian.
The Wilton teenager’s mother tells News 12 she can’t believe an animal helped save her child’s life.
“You bring them to every doctor you can imagine, there is no stone unturned, so the fact that this horse who was almost slaughtered ended up being the thing that saved her life.
It's unimaginable,” says Andrea Topalian. Even as little girl, horses enchanted Topalian.
But it took Lilith and Rising Starr Horse Rescue to help her find the trail home.
“I personally think she helped me more, but we couldn't have done it without each other,” says Topalian.
Rising Starr welcomes volunteers and donations. It also offers a variety of programs, including equine yoga and horse adoption.