Woman Feeds Horses During War in Ukraine

Kateryna Shcherbyna helped haul grain and also evacuate dogs and cats to safety.

Kateryna Shcherbyna with horse
Kateryna Shcherbyna.


Kateryna Shcherbyna was worried that the horses would not be able to eat. A horse owner, trainer, and endurance rider, the Ukrainian woman saw that stables were having trouble getting grain and hay as the war with Russia started.

“The first problem that arose with the beginning of war was the delivery of horse's feed,” Shcherbyna tells Treehugger, via email. “It's hard to have all the year stock of hay and forage at the place, the land is quite expensive around Kyiv.”

So, typically, the stables keep their feed somewhere far away, often as distant as 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the barn.

“That's why it was impossible to bring a big lorry with the feed to Kyiv oblast during the first month of the war: It was dangerous because of the fire and difficult because of an enormous amount of block posts everywhere,” she says.

She came up with an idea to get a small bus to at least be able to bring small amounts of feed to each stable. A friend brought her a Renault Traffic van. On her first trip, she carted food for people in need, then she started carting feed for horses and giving rescue cats a ride to safety.

“The next month I drove almost every day to bring hay and grain from the stock not far from my home to the stables I was able to reach,” Shcherbyna says. 

She created Help Ukrainian Horses, a Facebook group where people could ask for or offer assistance. 

“There are a lot of people there from all over the world, '' Shcherbyna says. “You can write there if you need help and find someone in need if you are willing to give a hand.”

Released Horses in the Wild

While volunteers were able to help the animals that were still in stable, there were other horses that had been released to fend for themselves when their owners fled for safety.

“There were a lot of stables on the line of the fire and the only way to be safe was to release horses and get away as fast as possible,” Shcherbyna says.

“It was not possible to take any care for them. There were military actions. It would not be wise and safe to go there.”

She says she believes many of the released horses are surviving in the wild.

Shcherbyna also helped evacuate more than 100 dogs and cats and volunteers brought many pounds of pet food to animals in need. She was able to help due to donations from friends, people in the Facebook group, and thanks to Fleet of Angels, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping horses in emergency situations. Polish animal rescue groups also provided assistance.

Shcherbyna, who is hoping to find a horse-related position abroad, says she has stayed safe so far.

“I was lucky enough not to get shot during my drives,” she says. “I was lucky enough to live in a village where we did not have any military actions. There were some missiles and planes flying above us, a Russian helicopter tried to deliver a landing party several kilometers from us, but luckily they all were squelched by Ukrainian military forces.”