Let me tell you how it all began,
A 15hh Spotted Saddle mare needed someone.
And because she came here in 2010, everything changed.
When I say she changed everything, I need to be clear:
Every Single Thing.
All the things about equine welfare in this region. . .as well as all of the things about my own life and those I would meet after.
This mare was rescued from a horrific example of abuse and neglect. It remains as horrible to me even today, many years later, having seen so many other things.
I tried hard to do the right thing by her, to save her. I tried blindly. . .not making the right choice soon enough in my desperation and idealism. I did not know enough.
She had been locked in a stall for years – never allowed out, stall never cleaned, only enough food and water to maintain a skeletal frame. She was then moved out and tied to a tree without shelter as time passed, and when it suited the owners, she was ridden, emaciated and crippled, with hooves that curled up and over the fetlocks.
She came to us with lacerations across and around her body: a halter too small: rope tangled about her legs in knots.
And the day some hope came for her, in a torrential downpour, the hope walked her through a ranging creek several feet deep. . .but did not know enough to know she was too far gone to save in the way I had in my mind that day.
The day I let her go, several months later, she was finally receiving a very “real rescue,” and it was one she was due long before she was picked up in a flood. . . and had been due each day after, sadly.
I did not give her a name while she was here.
It was never supposed to be that way, though.
Phoenix. Once she was buried here at my farm, that evening, it seemed really clear.
She was meant to be the spark that arrived and inspired beyond measure. She did that, and because she was here, many hundreds of horses have lived better, rested easier, been saved. . .because of her, we’ve tried (and still failed) to not try too long and cause more harm than help.
She taught me to be a helper. She taught me to look outside of what I’d like. . .to what is actually right.
And Phoenix means to be Re-born.
So on SEPTEMBER 13, 2010, that poor mare became a catalyst that saw a single person’s effort turn into a small and united group of horse loving people in the Tri-state area, then from there. . .where we are today.
Over 400 horses saved, over 100 volunteers, fosters and trainers and helpers in multiple states, thousands of horse owners and horses helped, touched and taught to try harder, do better, go further.
Working in West Virginia, where nearly 20% of the residents live in poverty, means working harder, doing more and doing it with far less.
And we do it.
We’ve seen successes I could never have imagined in these years since Phoenix was here because we looked for the helpers and found them. We are finding them still.
Thank you to those who have been supporting since the start, thank you to those who have joined in, and if you’re new to the work of HOP, and you had not heard the story of the beginning before. . . thank you for taking the time to do so now.