My Adoption Story | Dasher

Hi–my name is Dasher and I’m a nine-year-old, white Thoroughbred gelding.

Where I Came From
I was born in Canada and raced as a two- and three-year-old in the United States under the name of “Dynamite”.

My great, great, great-grandmother was Somethingroyal, Secretariat’s mother, and my great-great grandfathers include Princequillo and Northern Dancer. With such champion racing lines came much expectation, but after two disappointing finishes I was “retired” from the track.

The next six years are a blur, but in December, 2011, I was abandoned in a field in Perris, Calif. along with two other horses. We were left without any food or water. A lot of people were horrified at what had happened to us, but in retrospect we were some of the lucky ones. Someone noticed how thin we were getting and called FalconRidge Equine Rescue who took us in and provided us with food and shelter.

Who Adopted Me
After I spent several months at FalconRidge, Deborah Johnson saw my picture on the rescue website and came to meet me. She couldn’t resist my dark eyes and long white eye lashes. The minute I saw her I knew we were going to be together forever.

Deborah loved my personality and didn’t care that I was thin, or that my coat was rough and curly from malnutrition–she adopted me on the spot! I was taken by trailer to Deborah’s ranch on March 16, 2012, which just happened to be my ninth birthday. There I was greeted by her three other horses, Ami, Bertha, and the best surprise of all, a tiny miniature horse named Ally. She’s adorable and we have become best friends.

I can’t express how wonderful it is to be wanted so much by a human. Deborah tells me often how happy she is to have me for her horse, and more than anything, how she loves my attitude. I guess it’s because look forward to each and every day knowing God has good things in store for me and so does Deborah. We’re a perfect match.

How I Spend My Time
I spend my time hanging out with my horse friends, eating and going on trail rides.

Deborah runs an unofficial horse therapy program for women and I get to meet new friends all the time. Women come to the ranch to relax and spend time with us horses. They feed us carrots and brush us, but only Deborah rides me because I am her hers and she is mine.

Why I’m an Advocate For Horse Adoption
Sometimes I wonder: if FalconRidge Equine Rescue had not saved me, who knows where my pals and I might have ended up? Because of FalconRidge, I now have a wonderful home with a lady who loves me like crazy. Life just doesn’t get any better.

If you are a person looking for a horse, please consider adopting from a rescue. It might be the best decision you’ll ever make.

Love,
Dasher

The Reason So Many Horses Are At Risk

  • They are the only animal we really ride for pleasure or work or show. Most people believe horses have to be ridden, and if they are not rideable, they are not useful or wanted anymore.
  • They are large, have to be boarded if you do not have land and board is high.
  • They live long lives–sometimes into their 30s and at least well into their 20s.
  • They are expensive to feed, especially now that hay has doubled in price.
  • They are not valued by most of society when they are lame, blind or older.
  • They are not considered family pets such as dogs and cats who stay with you for life.
  • They are sometimes considered an item or possession, like a boat or car or RV–something of value that can be sold to get their moneys worth or back out of.
  • There are less good homes or places for them to go when their owners no longer want them, usually due to lameness or age.
  • They are the most unique animal right now in this country that faces these issues.

Taken from a Facebook post by Nicki Branch, president of FalconRidge Equine Rescue.

You Don’t Sell Your Grandpa

The term “Adoption” has baggage to say the least. In humans there seems to be an age discrimination. Unless you’re an infant, you’ve automatically been assigned a long list of “troubled” stereotypes. The same goes for our Equine friends. It’s rough enough to be advertised as up-for-adoption in an industry run on monetary status (by no means am I critiquing, I love everything about equine sports). The reality is that people expect to get what they pay for. If a horse is listed as discounted or free, we assume that there must be a flaw. Add 20-years-young to the description and the steady stream of stereotypes just became a rushing geyser. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought these myself over the years. It’s difficult not to jump to conclusions, especially when we’ve encountered those few horses that have been so betrayed, or in most cases neglected, by humans that they’re past the point of regaining trust. As I said however, those are FEW.

I was 10 years old when I got my first horse (yes, I was one of the lucky ones). My mom and I drove out to the desert to look at a 17-year-old, grey Appaloosa. It wasn’t a love at first sight moment, in fact I was a little put off by the horse’s appearance. Tied to the side of a trailer was a 15.2-hand, flea-bitten grey bag-of-bones. He was a bit awkward looking. He had a large head, thick neck and frail body. I got on for a test ride, and my 10-year-old legs (pretty frail themselves) couldn’t even get the horse to trot! From my point of view, this was an immediate deal breaker. Thank goodness my mother saw more in this horse than I did, because this bag of bones turned into a star jumper, dressage horse and most importantly a loyal companion.

As it turned out, Kip (whose name was apparently “Kid” but the desert wind relayed slightly different phonetics) had been in pasture the majority of his life. His owner was down on his luck and could barely afford to feed himself, let alone a 1200-pound animal. The woman we bought him from would drive by the property every day on her way home. One day she finally had enough of seeing this helpless animal waste away, knocked on the man’s door, and said “you need to feed your horse.” After a conversation of excuses and self-justifying, the man finally told the woman to just take the horse. So she went home to get her trailer and did just that!

I am thankful for this woman every day of my life. Because of her action, I am blessed with my four-legged companion. I can say with confidence that I would not be a fraction of the person I am today had Kip not found his way into my life.

We think we are doing the horses a favor by giving them a second chance. As I found out, as I’m sure anyone who has adopted will testify, we are in fact the ones who are saved. Through all of the trials and tribulations of life, my horse has been the one consistency. He is truly my sanity.

This spring, Kip turned 31. Although his showing days ended quite some time ago, his place in our family will remain forever. He has taught me so much over the years and for that I am forever grateful. Driving back to school one day, my college roommate asked me why we didn’t sell Kip, since he was too told to show. To this I replied with what I thought to be a logical response, “you don’t sell your grandpa.” My friends would refer to this response as a typical “Zeschia” moment. The point, however, I am firmly sticking by! Family is family, whether two-legged or four. There might be a little “hitch in his giddy up”, but his spirit and excitement for life are still there. I am thankful every day that I get the chance to throw on a saddle pad (and only a saddle pad) and ride away the chaos and stress of the work day with my old friend.

To anyone looking to adopt, I say do it! With the help of someone knowledgeable about horses, be it trainer or friend, a lot can be accomplished. There are so many horses out there who have had unfortunate events completely disassemble their lives, at no fault of their own. They need our assistance to give them the opportunity to reach their full potential and regain the quality of life they deserve. We’re living in hard economic times right now, and in many cases, the  horses end up in these rescues because their previous owners had larger hearts than pocket books. We can’t single handedly save them all, but we certainly can do everything in our power to contribute. Even if you’re not in a position to acquire a horse of your own, there is certainly need for volunteers as well as donations to support these horses until they find the author of their next chapter.

If you are looking for a horse, whether show jumper, dressage, western pleasure or trail companion, consider your local equine adoption organization. If you’re as lucky as I was, the right one will find you.

About the Author
Zeschia is a recent graduate of the University of California, Riverside. There she received her B.S. in Biology and worked in an animal-behavior lab. Horses have been her lifelong passion and obsession. She currently balances the worlds of biology and horses by working in her family’s greenhouse business, Booman Floral, and teaching horseback riding lessons at Hayden Show Jumping. She loves parasites (reading about them, not acquiring them), long walks on the beach (especially with her Blue Heeler, Milla), patching up her accident-prone Thoroughbred (Gunner), and ending every day possible with a moonlit ride on her favorite Appaloosa (Kip).

Why You Should Consider Adopting a Horse

The Unwanted Horse Coalition estimated that in 2007, there were 170,000 unwanted horses in the United States (the UHC’s definition of “unwanted” can be found in the preface of this document, but it will come as no surprise – “unwanted” means exactly what it sounds like).

This number – 170,000 – was determined before the economic fallout of 2008, which I am guessing is responsible for thousands more unwanted horses as horse owners lost their jobs and struggled to put food on the table.  As we all know, horses are expensive…and to many, a luxury item – it’s safe to say that if there were 170,000 unwanted horses in 2007, there were even more in 2008.  I wish I had some reliable data to quote here, but I think you get the point:

There are a lot of unwanted horses in America.

Some of those unwanted horses don’t *look* like unwanted horses.  They are nice, fancy, sound and useful horses that perhaps just never got the training they needed.  Or, maybe they did – maybe they won money for their owners at the racetrack or carted a small child around a show ring or carried a middle-aged lady over many miles of trails.  And still, they end up somewhere they don’t deserve to be – they end up unwanted, wasting away in a pasture somewhere, shipped off to a slaughterhouse in another country, or maybe euthanized.

Horses, due their nature…big, expensive, used for sport…often end up getting passed around (compared to, say, a dog or cat who will often have just one owner).  And no matter how nice a horse is, he’s likely to go lame or have an owner who ends up in a financially tight spot (remember what happened to Black Beauty?) and before you know it – no one wants him anymore.

I am not writing this blog post to pull at your heartstrings, to open your pocketbooks or to shame anyone who is horse shopping.  I am writing this post to draw attention to a problem (unwanted horses) and to hopefully convince someone who is looking for a horse to consider adopting from a rescue.

We all have our own ideas about what rescuing/adopting a horse really means, and so I’ll clarify what I’m talking about when I use the word “rescue.”  To me, and for the sake of this post, a horse “rescue” is a legitimate organization dedicated to finding homes for unwanted horses.  It is an organization that has the best interests of both the horses and the people involved at heart. A good rescue will take a horse back that doesn’t work out for its new owner, and it will do its best to match horses appropriately with the right person.

So…I’m going to give you a few good reasons to adopt from a rescue, and showcase a few success stories, too.

You *Can* Find a Nice Horse at a Rescue

I know what you’re thinking!  You’re thinking, “I want something pretty and sound…I can’t find that at a rescue!”

But you can.

You might put in some extra time and money to finish a horse’s training.  You might have to look for that diamond in the rough.  You might not find a horse that’s registered or exactly the breed you were looking for.  But…there are lots of nice horses waiting to be adopted.

This pretty mare was rescued from a feedlot.  She had limited training and poor ground manners.  After putting in some time, her current owner is showing her…and, added bonus, she ended up being pregnant…with a mule, no less!

(Jamaica, photo by Sue Winslow.)

(Jamaica and her baby, Surprise, owned by Jennifer Marek.)

Adopting From a Rescue is Easier and Safer Than Rescuing a Horse Yourself

Many people think they’d be better off rescuing a horse themselves (from, say, a pitiful ad they find on Craigslist) – and for a handful of capable folks with the necessary resources at their beck and call, that might be possible.  But the rest of us are probably better off adopting a horse from a rescue.

Why?

For one thing, rescues usually have vets and trainers and farriers they work with each time a new horse arrives.  They know what to look for, know what questions to ask, and know what to expect from a horse who often shows up with no history and questionable life experiences.  This means that you don’t have to find out the hard way that your new horse doesn’t stand for the farrier or, even worse, isn’t broke (that’s not something *I* want to learn the hard way!).

When you adopt from a reputable rescue, they will disclose the horse’s entire medical history (to the best of their knowledge) as well as the horse’s level of training.  They want to make sure that you know what you’re getting into, and that the horse will be receiving adequate care.

Take a look at this pretty mare – the rescue that adopted her out warned the owner about several perceived health concerns.  In this case, most of them were unfounded – but the new owner knew in advance exactly what she might have been dealing with and was willing to take on the possible expenses to provide her with a lifetime of care.

(Coco, adopted from Rerun by Suzanne Stern.)

When You Adopt From a Rescue, You Allow the Rescue to Save Another Horse

This is the real beauty of adopting a horse (aside from gaining a wonderful companion for yourself, that is!).  When you adopt a horse from a rescue, the rescue is in then able to bring in another horse who needs help.

And there are a lot of horses that need help.

Rescues don’t often have empty stalls.

There are always unwanted horses, and not always enough room, money, or manpower to save them all.

I hope to encourage those of you who are in the market for a new horse to broaden your horizons a bit and contact a local rescue.  You never know what they might have available (always call or email…horse people are busy, and the website might not be updated) – your new best friend could be waiting for you.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for at a rescue, I hope you will remember all of the unwanted horses out there and – when the time is right – consider donating to your local rescue (most rescues welcome donations in the form of volunteer hours, used tack, feed, and of course, cash!).

What positive rescue stories would you share with someone who was trying to decide whether or not to adopt from a rescue? 

About the Author
Carrie is a dedicated mother and wife. Some of her favorite things are horses, iced tea, getting packages, lip gloss, Christmas, cloth diapers, babies, writing, a clean house and her Connemara pony, Seamus.