Day 2 of the People Behind Heart of Phoenix
At the end of 2010, the rescue was poised to become a collaborative effort spanning WV, Ohio and Ky. I just did not know this yet.
Jessie (now our vice president) and her husband, Tony, had been working doing some rescue on their own on 50 plus acres in Ashland, Kentucky.
They would go to Cattletsburg’s stock auction (and had for years. . .) and pull a horse to rehab from the meat buyer pen and find the horse a home when the horse was ready.
Here I was doing a little rescue on my own. They were doing a little rescue on their own, and finally I guess you could say the stars lined up, and I received an email about posting a horse they had pulled from auction on Petfinder to help them hit a better audience of adopters.
Little did I know that email would lead to so much good. . . reaching years in the future.
The first rescue we worked on together was that of a Senior OTTB named Dodger. He still lives with them as their daughter’s horse today, years later.
One thing led to another, and before I knew it, they were holding Four horses at a time for the rescue, we had our 501(c)3 status in the works, we found Sonora W, and we had no idea what we were in for.
The thing I find so often in rescue, though I have to tell you that you do not find it with us, is too often Everyone on board wants to be in the spotlight (for there is such a thing in rescue as social media and local media makes it this way), wants more thanks than is likely ever coming, love to disagree and have a flare for the dramatic while the animals pay the price. It drives a lot of good people away from doing rescue, at all.
Jessie would never want even noticed for the work she has done with HOP since 2011. She may track me down for this “Ode to Jessie” post, yet! Haha!
But truly, these two people have always had the motto: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. . .” and that is it. No big event – bring the horses here, we will fix them. And they have. . .
Of the horses we are most known for, Scarlett stands out as the most remarkable, and it was with Jessie she was saved, loved and brought back from the very brink of death (I’d argue her body had crossed over and only her mind held on – the body didn’t get the Memo)
Of our foster board members, she has rehabbed more horses on her farm than any of the rest, and there is no fan fare ever needed. . .
Just pure rescue at the most beautiful level –
And we couldn’t be where we are with them, and I’m not sure I’d plunge on ahead without them, either.
— with Jessie Smith Hardesty.
Found a pretty nice trailer for just 2k. It is very close to what we were looking for. We are going to pick it up in Lexington this evening.
The advantage is the divider come out and it functions as a stock trailer – no ramp. The ramp seemed a good idea, but in practice, I really didn’t like it. Rescues are going to be a lot easier to load in the open type trailer. There is also a storage area, which he needed.
Day 3 of Introductions to the HOP team continues with. . .
My husband, John C. . .
This guy, what can I say?
He has carried multiple nurse mare foals from auction for us, Loaded and hauled 90% of the horses we’ve saved and been there for through most every tragedy we’ve experienced. He has been the work horse time and time again. . .
I am sure Facebook has a word limit that would be maxed out if I were to try to tell you the entire story here, and John would scowl at me for it, as well.
He was kind enough to stick this rescue work out with me even when the funding came all from him, the work landing on only us. . .when it made just regular life nearly impossible, when our children were infants and young toddlers and rescue trips often ran 12 hours long until 3am with a truck full of cranky, tired babies.
I can’t promise you it was motivated for the good of the horse. Truthfully, it was motivated more by knowing it was what I believe had to be done, was the right thing to do. . .knowing that my soul would never be quiet until this work was done, and so he has done it with me. . .
Day in and out for years and years now, and I can tell you – HOP would not be here, the first horse would not have been saved without him.
— with John Creamer.
HOP’s team Introductions, Day 4 Continues with
Gena was the first volunteer we really ever had, and she was surely the first I ever accepted I could really depend on. She proved she was committed so quickly, I probably put too much on her all at once, but even though she was a single mother with struggles of her own, trying to attend school and work and volunteer. . ..
She never faltered to show up as she said she would, do all we needed and come on the drop of a dime when called for an emergency.
She has rehabbed, been there for heartbreaking euthanasia, fed the Nursemare foals in the middle of the night in arctic weather on the mountain behind my house, went on recovery missions, seizures, went out for a feral horse capture. . .
You name it, she has been there.
The things I’ve appreciated so very much about Gena as a volunteer is she is the most fiercely loyal part of this team I could ever have imagined. You always know, hell or high water, where you stand and if she says she will be there to do it, SHE WILL BE THERE to do it.
Priceless, folks . . .I know lately life has made it hard to volunteer like she’d like, she if she was never able to again, I know she has paid her dues as timeless HOP volunteer.
(This is a photo I took with a rescue mare, Freedom, Gena really just loved to the utmost, for our HOP calendar back in 2012)
— with Gena T. Nicholas.
I implore the right experience person with a soft spot for a senior horse that has given and given to humans for 25 years only to be abused and starved to stop and consider giving a home to Bettie.
Her last. . .and prior to rescue, I imagine her only soft place to ever land.
She isn’t going to be a horse for everyone. I will be frank.
She has seen too much bad, been taken for granted and beaten on too long.
She needs an experienced hand and a kind soul, but she doesn’t have to be reconciled to retirement. . .she is a solid girl and not ready to be a pasture ornament alone. I actually say a healthy, kind working relationship is EXACTLY what she needs to fine a good spot within!
This solid, beautifully grand old mare has seen horrors in her time. Her every move tells me and those around here that.
We honestly get few horses that have experienced emotional and physical abuse like this.
Take this has a heartfelt plea, a voice for her when, for 25 years, she clearly had no voice. . .
The right person out there, stop and read her story and consider making her last years worth living, redeem her belief in man-kind. Shoot, redeem mine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRbNvSpaPQI&list=UUon6O9NXpBsJu8a0_5mnh0A – this video mentions here with the Minis we pulled out of the same situation
Day 5 of Intro to the Rescue
I mulled over writing this about these Girls individually or together but really, I think they must be together. It is woven too tightly for me to do it otherwise.
Nicky and Dorella joined up with HOP through something of a random event. It is actually a tale of tragic loss. . .but it has lead to something really priceless.
And it reminds me many an amazing thing is born from tragedy, much like the birth of Heart of Phoenix as a real working rescue.
Dorella and Nicky headed up a cat rescue called Itty Bitty Kitty Committee – We had set up awareness booths next to them, done interviews with Nicky for the Nurse Mare Foal story and for another horse related issue. We ran in the same “Save the World” circles, for sure. I had even adopted my barn cats years back in 2011 from IBKC!
And then suddenly, there was a starving old TWH mare in Elkview in back in early Jan 2013. Nicky heard of the situation, and when I saw the mare’s story on my newsfeed, I wished HOP could help, but we were full. Full, full and full.
Some brainstorming led to, since Liz needed intensive care, Nicky and Dorella paying board and taking a rehabbed horse just waiting to be adopted, Coco, to foster. HOP took Liz in.
The tragedy of the story came when Liz was assessed by the vet to be in the late stages of an illness that made any quality of life impossible, and we kindly put her down, then a short time later, Coco colicked and was put down. Really, that 1st part 2013 was fraught with horrors.
After a vet diagnosed the Colic as minor in Coco, Nicky and Dorella stayed in sub arctic temps walking Coco through the night – all night – sleeping in winter conditions in the barn when she seemed to be ok. . .just to be sure. I arrived the next AM, assuming, as they wanted to, that the vet was right.
But he wasn’t.
And with Coco’s pending adopter, Cheryl, Sonora, Nicky and Dorella, Kelly (the kind person who had altered us to Liz being in need) huddled around in the freezing barn, we had to say goodbye to Coco. I am sure of only one thing about that day, that no horse in rescue was ever loved so much as that mare.
Really, most people, with that type of introduction to HOP, would have said good riddance. Our constitutions can’t bear MORE sadness like this. But that isn’t what they said at all.
They were then certain horse rescue was something they could not leave behind after the short time with Coco.
They found a boarding situation where they funding out of pocket, though it was a struggle, a stall to be able to work with one horse at a time through HOP, starting with Dexter We sent whatever horse we felt needed the most time, handling and training.
They have continued ever since. . .taking whatever wild thing I deliver to them, going after long days at work in the middle of the night to allot time to work with these horses that need extra time, extra love, extra structure. . .going on their own dime to training clinics to learn more, to be able to help more effectively.
When Nicky fell madly in Love with Alex, I admit, my heart sank. I was afraid that would be the end of this duo working with a horse. The ability to continue to board a rescue would be lost, the time may not be there to commit. But nothing was lost. . .Alex just gained his forever soul mate, and between the rescue being able to step in with funding and Dorella’s continued financial help, we’ve been able to keep that stall with a horse in need there . . . and they haven’t missed a beat with working day and night and every waking moment with these horses. . .
Dexter, Amber, Alex, Blake, Skye, Lola, Prince, Pecos, Dahlia, Willie and now Rudy (girls, am I forgetting someone?)
We do not usually send any easy ones their way. We send those that usually need something extra or a LOT extra. They love the challenge and possibly plot to murder me in my sleep now and again. Ha.
But What this team has brought to HOP isn’t limited to the one horse they give so much to while he/she is with them, but these are people who will go so many extra miles, I think I’d personally faint following behind.
When Moon was stolen and sold, through hell and high water, Nicky searched for her. Had she lost heart, I believe we’d never had found her. It meant miles of driving and crazy calls that seemed to be going no where for well over a month. It took a faith I admit I did not have.
They didn’t hesitate when they received a bizarre call from my husband when I was out of cell signal in a rural area of WV with Boone in a filthy stall needing someone to haul butt and come get him during his seizure. . .from this message: “Tinia is in Boone county with a horse. She needs you now,” Nicky managed to figure out I was with the sheriff in the middle of no where and arrived just in time with trailer in tow in the middle of the night. . .
How she figured out what was going on, I’m still not sure.
Wherever we’ve needed them, no matter the challenge, and given the recent Feral horse round up, you can imagine how huge the tasks can be. . .they have never said said no. I don’t think they have ever really hesitated.
Talking about Happy Dances, stay tuned until the end for a nice one
I saw on another rescue page with a post on their timeline from a local person saying how disappointed they were in the rescue (which is an EXCELLENT group, BTW) because there was a cat in need in their neighbourhood and this rescue not only didn’t help, but the person was angry they didn’t respond to the message.
Do people seriously think rescue have an endless supply of Money, Time and Space?
I imagine this person not only doesn’t do rescue, but I bet she isn’t a donor or supporter, either.
Seriously, people. Think before you speak/type. If an animal is in dire need and you see it – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE to man up and help. Don’t make some excuse and then blast someone for not helping what you’ve already turned your back on.
How dare someone rant publicly to a hard working group already doing more than that person can wrap their small mind around because they didn’t hear what they wanted in the time-frame they wanted.
The group politely responded they did not see a message from the person in their inbox. The person then said: It was sent to a rescue person’s personal page. Sheesh.
I try my best to respond to all the daily pleas for help, and I get many. Most of the time, we have to just say, I’m sorry. . .we can’t help.
A rant reminding us we can’t save the world. . .it makes you fail as a person.
Rudy games 🙂
I was talking to some folks today, and I was asked about the type of rider that usually adopts from HOP.
I replied a beginner type.
It is true. I’d say 60% fall in the advanced beginner category. 20% in the Almost complete beginner area. . .
You know, honestly, that speaks to the kind souls we take in. While I do want more experienced adopters because that is what some horses require, this totally smashes the concept (which insults my intelligence, as is) that most rescues are “crazy” or “junk.”
Only a minute portion of horses we’ve placed haven’t worked in their very first home. . .that means not only were they said to be beginner type – they actually have worked as such over the long term
Many of our horses work for beginners with some horse sense because they are solid, kind, well trained good horses. . .
But I do want to see a time that we see a lot of been there, done that types adopting. Making rescues a viable part of the show world and the intermediate/advanced rider world is key to proving their value. . .and while I would say 20% of our adopter base is that type of person now, I think to really move the horses that require a person of more skill in a timely way, that needs to be 35% or so.
What have you learned from this? Sing the praises of the rescue horse to all your horse savvy pals, that is what
This poor horse is in Ohio, around Chillicothe. A gentleman purchased him apparently because someone was saying they were going to feed him to their pit bulls.
As he is blind, they cannot keep him. . .can anyone help him?
Day 6 of the Introduction to the HOP Team carries on with:
Susan Sunday of Sunday Stables
I don’t know how many people realize that equine rescue usually runs quite apart from the working horse community, and here at HOP it is no different.
There is little out spoken support from the equine industry professionals about the work rescues do, and I long ago accepted that and moved on.
So you can imagine how shocked I was when a trainer and boarding facility owner who had been working in the local horse industry evem before I was born wanted to help. . .
Shocked is an understatement.
Susan had actually adopted from us quite a few years prior. . .there was a lovely little Arab mare full of Sass that she adopted for her lesson and show program. We were glad to see Niteza end up there (though she has since been adopted by another HOP volunteer as her sass didn’t work so well in lesson program), but we never imagined so much more would come from the relationship.
In 2013,there was a pitiful senior mare at a county shelter wasting away named Addy that we couldn’t find a way to haul due to trailer issues. Susan posted on the rescue’s page that she’d be happy to go pick her up.
Let me tell you, even that small thing was huge for us because, honestly, it was rare anyone, even if it saved a life, would offer to help haul a horse to safety. She headed out with a HOP adopter the next day to bring Addy to rescue. She not only hauled her, but she brought her to her barn, pampered her, groomed her and bathed her before we arrived.
That was something we simply were not used to.
It wasn’t long before Susan offered a spot at her barn for the rescue to fill with a rehabbed horse where the rescue essentially pays actual costs only. And we pay nothing for the hours of handling, riding, training and work beyond food and board. This was a wonderful opportunity for us because prior to that time, no one with a facility had made this type of offer. . .
We moved Moon over that very moment as it allowed us to take in a Dire needs horse and allowed Moon to be worked and handled on a daily basis.
I hoped. . .but was afraid to believe. . . we could expect this to continue. I didn’t imagine it would continue four fold.
It is always my fear that a new volunteer will find this doesn’t suit them, doesn’t work for their schedule, doesn’t jive for some reason, but it took only a little time for me to see. . .This was a fulfilling work for Susan. It meant something to her. Giving back to horses was worth something!
One thing lead to another, it was no time before 4 HOP horses resided at Sunday Stables –
It isn’t just a safe place for horses to be until adoption – they receive the highest, most kind level of care you can fathom. They are not just another horse in a barn of 20. They are special. They matter there. They are valued in a way many have never been before.
It doesn’t matter that many others there are show horses with far higher dollar values, she never treats a single horse differently.
She has never hesitated to say. . .bring another, save another, we have a spot. The small board price we pay does nothing to offset the time these horses are given – the one of one riding and handling and care is such a labor of love. . .
And stands out so much to me. . .
Having someone who has more horse savvy in her small foot than I have in my whole body care for so many of the HOP horses (currently housing more than any other member of the team), watching every small thing about each and giving each a degree of respect and care unknown to them before rescue brings me nearly to tears just the thought of it. . .
So, so many have been saved because of her kind offer that started last year. . .it allowed us to literally save four more horses at a time. . .over the course of a year, without her, I can honestly say, so many would have had no where to go, we would have had to say no and leave so many behind. . .
Each member of this group means the world to me. . . they are each someone who stands between life and death for a horse and allow HOP to grant life to one more, one more, one more. . .
a Thank you really isn’t enough at all. . .
— with Susan Sunday.
Any guesses as to what type of equine adopts out the LEAST from HOP?
It isn’t what you will guess.
Skye Pie. . .with Aubrey of Adkins Quarter Horses in training.
Her assessment of this pretty mare?
She is a go anywhere, fearless trail partner for any intermediate type rider. . .She really likes her and can’t really figure out why she DOESN’T HAVE A HOME.
Neither can we.
She is a super intelligent mare, and she requires you to be the leader in the relationship, and if you aren’t, she will take the role. You do have to be a solid, smart rider that wants a real partner.