Horses transform the lives of inmates at Wateree River - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Horses transform the lives of inmates at Wateree River

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Christopher Griffin and Miss Liberty -- that's a horse in case you're wondering -- are both making progress.

"When she got here, she hated being in the stall," said Griffin.

Miss Liberty is here as a result of life on the track. Griffin is here because he got off his track.

"I've got another year left," said Griffin, "January 2014."

There's plenty of time to think about the second degree burglary charge and parole violation that brought him to Wateree River Correctional. And there's plenty of time to figure out what he'll do when he gets out.

You can bet on horses being involved.

Griffin's a graduate of The Thoroughbread Retirement Foundation's Second Chances program. Five days a week, the inmates learn everything from anatomy to grooming.

Reid McLellan is the instructor at the program.

"We're actually giving these horses a shot at a new life," said McLellan, "a different life."

The inmates are looking for something similar.

"We don't want to rehabilitate them just from the standpoint of 'You didn't do something wrong, now go back and do the same thing you were doing.' Here's an opportunity for you to have a new life too," said McLellan.

Most of the inmates had no experience with horses until now, but graduates of the program have gone on to get jobs in the industry after they were released.

The TRF says the connection between horse and man extends to life beyond the stable.

"You can't force an animal of this size to do what you wanna do by intimidation, or by force," said William Cox. "It's a cooperation; a partnership."

"It teaches you trust; how to love something and care for it," said Griffin. "It's just awesome.

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