From a grand Morgan Show horse to Abuse Case and Back Again: The story of one geldings journey from loving home to neglect and into rescue in West Virginia

From Grand Morgan Show horse to Starvation case and now back to his old self: Festival Emissary is looking for his “new” home.

Emi is a prime example of how, no matter if one tries, when a horse leaves your hands, if you have given a good home until that point, there is no way to know what comes next.

For this gelding, what came next was a nightmare. One that nearly brought a very stark, sad and painful death.


Once upon a time, Festival Emissary was a show horse hailing from California. He is pictured above winning blue as a 3 year old many years ago.


Eventually he was sold. He came to West Virginia and arrived at Sunday Stables as a client horse for a family who had a young daughter riding at the barn. Emi showed locally with this little girl for a long time. As I understand, others rode him in various shows for many years.

As time went on, given his very small size, his girl outgrew him and another family that seemed to be a good fit had a daughter that wanted to lease him. His owners thought they did the right thing. All went well, for a while. Eventually, that family said they would retire him. Many years had went by and Emi was in his mid 20’s.


But they didn’t retire him. They neglected him nearly to the point of death. And last December (2015), Kanawha county animal control arrived to find this skeletal creature. They would never have guessed he has been a grand Morgan show horse in his “day.”

I received a call about a senior horse that needed help. Without having an idea who she was going to meet, Susan Sunday, now a Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue officer, long time trainer and foster and Morgan aficionado headed out with a friend to pick up this gelding on a very cold winter day.


Shockingly, when Susan arrived, she knew this horse. While he never belonged to her, he had lived in her barn for some 15 years. He had been cherished so for most of his life. When she called me, she was a wreck. You can imagine, she was beyond horrified.

She knew what could happen to horses now. Since 2013, She has been with us to learn about the darkest parts of the horse world. A part so many do not see. But to imagine a horse she had known, had cared for. . .had fallen into this desperate situation was unspeakable to her. To say it made this work more real, more urgent, more lifesaving would be an understatement. . .

He came to her barn where he stabilized and began to heal, to gain, to become his old spunky, lively self (and believe us, he is) at the ripe old age of nearly 27. He went to a local HOP foster to finish rehab for the spring and summer and fall of 2016. The Cottrell family made sure he was able to have all he needed during this time. His intake sponsor, Mr. Rossi, was a tremendous help, as well.



emifat The story so many tell. . .that his abusers told. . .that old horses are just skinny was easily, as usual, dispelled as a farce. Emi, now 27, recovered and is thriving and ready for a new chapter. He is as full of life as ever and looking for an amazing new home. Nothing is guaranteed, but he has the full weight of Heart of Phoenix behind him now, and that means a lot.

He arrived back at Sunday Stables for a full evaluation yesterday, and it is evident this guy has years of life left to live at its fullest, for sure. Thank you to everyone who worked to make this after possible.

Now let us work together to find this awesome boy a home.

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