Horse power gained new meaning for a Darien college student, who recently visited the Humane Organization Representing Suffering Equines of Connecticut Inc.

While attending Sacred Heart University in Fairfield this fall, Jason Torey and his classmates are working on an advertising campaign to help support HORSE.

"Living in Darien all my life, each day I pass by beautiful horses grazing in the fields in Darien on my way to school," he said. "I never appreciated how powerful these horses really are until I am standing next to them."

Duke and Star are two of the rescue horses with which Torey had a chance to bond.

The organization is conducting a "Feed Duke" food drive.

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Duke, a 7-year-old Belgian draft horse, recently went to the farm with medical issues. Due to laser surgery that removed a piece of his epiglottal flap, his food and water come through his nose. He is able to get enough nourishment to survive, but it is unsure for how long. He also is at risk for lung infection at any time, which would kill him.

"Duke is a great example of `horse power,' " Torey said, because "he has the will to live against all odds and needs our help now."

Star, a 9-year-old registered Morgan/Arab cross, is good for long trail rides and in the ring.

"I can only imagine how great it would be to see these two horses running through the fields of Ox Ridge or galloping in the rink at Ziegler's estate on their road to recovery," Torey said after visiting the sick horses at Patty Whalers' farm.

"We are thrilled to have Sacred Heart University students working with HORSE of Connecticut," Patty Whalers, president, said.

Whalers has rescued more than 650 horses over the past 30 years.

"The students have already created fliers, brochures, email articles and even a banner that we're using. The quality of their work is excellent and they share a real passion for helping the horses that have been abused and neglected. We are entirely volunteer-supported, so the students' working with us means a lot," she said.

According to Ann Lynch, treasurer of the organization, it costs approximately $5,000 a year to care for a standard-size horse, excluding medical expenses. Lynch estimates that the organization will spend nearly $25,000 on Duke next year.

"We are an all-volunteer organization. No one here gets paid from donations that are sent to care for the horses," Lynch said. "We've been very lucky that people are so generous with both their time and money so that we are able to save horses that so desperately need help."

For information, visit horsectinfo.wix.com/hsofct2.