There are not enough words to describe the positive and powerful impact ALL ABOUT EQUINE ANIMAL RESCUE (AAE) is making in its community, both for horses and humans. Since 2009, AAE has been rescuing horses that have been bound for slaughter or abused and neglected for a number of various reasons. Reasons sometimes include careless owners or owners that have simply found themselves in desperate financial or situational circumstances. In any case, AAE has been turning negative situations for both horses and people into positive connections and relationships.
As of December 2013, AAE has taken in 95 horses, adopted 68 and facilitated adoptions of several more. But even with all the success they have had with helping so many horses, one stands to be one of the most challenging with which they have had to work. That being said, being a witness to one mare’s progression albeit slow is a rewarding experience I hope to enjoy throughout her continued rehabilitation. This mare’s name is Hopi and her story began with her experiences before she arrived at AAE.
Hopi and her foal were part of a group of horses, including several other mares, foals, weanlings, yearlings and young horses being sent through a Nevada feedlot in November 2011. It was during that time another rescue organization saved this group of horses from a gruesome fate of being slaughtered. Their efforts managed to facilitate the adoptions of some of the horses into new homes directly from the feedlot, but the remaining 45 or so were moved to a holding facility where they were boarded as that rescue continued working towards getting them adopted. Making things more challenging to find them homes was the fact that these horses were “wild” and unhandled causing placement of these horses to be extremely difficult. By January 2012, only a handful more of these horses had been adopted and the rescue group had expended the majority of their resources. Several of the mares were believed to be pregnant and foaling at any time. In addition, weather conditions at the time were below freezing and raising major concerns of the survival for newborn foals. The rescue was having to face a difficult decision of euthanasia and made one final effort to place the remaining horses.
AAE agreed to take in the most imminent to foal. One load of five horses was transported the end of January 2012 and another in March. Hopi arrived in March with a yearling colt at her side. Both were still in poor condition despite the fact they spent a few months at the boarding facility where they had actually improved a great deal from when they first arrived. Both were very fearful and extremely reactive to any human advances. Hopi also arrived at AAE with a skin condition around her eyes that appear to be scarring from severe sunburn. Unfortunately, however, cancer or other possibilities cannot be ruled out until she can be approached by their vet. Regardless, over time it appears to have improved some.
Since Hopi’s arrival at AAE, several volunteers with limited availability have spent time working on socializing her, getting her used to just having a rope ‘near’ her (particularly around her head), and getting her to accept taking food from a hand-held bowl. Any progress towards handling her had been small. Finally, during this past fall of 2013 a new volunteer expressed interest in working with Hopi and committing to two daily visits with her. There are no words to describe the emotions that one feels when you see a lead put on an accepting horse that once was afraid of ropes. There is no amount of force that can hold back the tears when you see a horse finally trust someone when you had doubt and that she might never learn to trust anyone. Hopi connected with an AAE volunteer, Mike.She is truly on a road to healing, learning to trust little by little with time and patience consistently provided to her each day. She has even been seen playing hide and seek with Mike in the paddock. Hopi still has some internal healing to do, but she has more than proven that with the right handler and developed trust she is capable of engaging in a horse-human relationship.