By Taylor Renner
In summer 2009, the Bureau of Animal Protection and the sheriff of Fremont County, Colorado, impounded 17 horses from an alleged neglectful breeding operation.
Managed by an elderly woman, the farm was breeding for colored Arabians using two senior Arabian stallions registered with the Arabian Horse Club. The farm was shut down for neglecting to properly feed the animals. After being evaluated by the Front Range Equine Rescue and Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue, the two studs were put down due to their poor condition and old age.
The rest of the herd was in just as bad shape. Many were thin, had injuries, infections or were pregnant. Two had severely deformed hooves and two were emaciated. Among them was a Tobiano Arabian mare named Glory and her foal.
After state officials contacted multiple facilities in search of homes for these rescues, the Horse Protection League (HPL), located at historic Churches Ranch in Arvada, Colorado, took in Glory and her foal.
“Glory and her foal, whom we named Tigger, were better than many of the others from that herd as far as their health goes,” said the Horse Protection League’s barn manager, Emie O’Neill. “There was still a lot of apparent neglect, however. They were very hard to handle and deal with. Glory was, of course, very protective of her foal. We worked with two other rescues; it was kind of a team effort to try to get these horses placed to give them a better life. For us, getting Glory’s nutrition better for the foal, her feet taken care of, as well as getting used to being handled and providing her with basic overall care were our main objectives with her at first.”
The Horse Protection League was established in 1994 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization horse rescue in Colorado dedicated to the rescue, care and welfare of equines and to empowering people and horses to help each other. Their goal is to bring horses back to good health and adopted into loving homes.
Tigger was weaned from Glory and was adopted the following year, but Glory still had a long road to travel before finding her forever home.
Glory, who was very distrustful of people, began training on the ground and under saddle with HPL’s trainer, Tucker Black.
She was adopted twice but ended up being brought back to HPL both times due to her trust issues and difficulty with being handled.
“It was rough on Glory coming back to us twice,” said Emie. “It does affect them. When they go out of here with an adopter and then they come back — you can see it affecting these horses. They had an owner, they had that one-on-one and all of a sudden they don’t anymore. But that’s why we make sure the adopters understand that we’ll take them back because we don’t want them to go off and get in another bad situation. It takes a lot of people and we’re a very small-scale operation when it comes to the rescue world. We don’t look for the quick turnaround; once we decide to bring a horse in, it’s here until we can find it a home.”
In 2013, Claudia Wilson, previous president of HPL and owner of Silverwood Farm in Arvada, Colorado, was visiting HPL with a friend who was looking for a new beginner horse. Although her friend didn’t find what she was looking for, Claudia unexpectedly did.
“Tucker Black was working with Glory the day we visited and we watched and I thought she was really pretty,” said Claudia. “So I went back the next day and watched again and I told Emie, ‘I’m taking her home!’”
Even though Claudia doesn’t ride much herself and is more active in carriage driving, she had a young high school student at her barn, Rebecca Craig, help her continue with Glory’s under-saddle training.
“My first impression of Glory was that she was really, really cute,” said Rebecca. “She was super sensitive and very touchy but that’s to be expected for her breed and what she’s been through.”
Realizing Glory’s natural potential for dressage, and with the help of dressage trainer Cassandra DiPentino, Rebecca gradually progressed with Glory. The two competed in their first dressage show in August 2014 and received good scores but still had some challenges to overcome.
“[The show] was definitely a little rough around the edges,” recalled Rebecca. “There was a lot that needed to be finessed. She was very nervous; she’d never really been anywhere or done anything. Since she’s an Arabian, the biggest and hardest thing for her was getting her poll softened where she could come in to more of a working frame.”
Rebecca has continued to work with Glory, currently at Training level, and compete in more Colorado Pinto Horse Association shows. She plans to keep building Glory’s show experience but also focus on just having fun riding and working with her as well.
“She’s a little tough but she’s really coming around,” said Claudia. “We’re just going to keep working along!”
With most of HPL’s horses being adopted as companion animals, Glory’s outcome with Claudia and Rebecca has far exceeded HPL’s usual expectations in adoption cases.
“When you think of Glory coming from a neglect situation and then where she’s at now — it’s a Cinderella story!” said Emie. “It took somebody like Claudia and her connections to see the potential and to have access to those resources. As a rescue, we don’t get into the show world. We just take care of the basics and get them more adoptable and able to be handled. We don’t have the means to take a horse and totally finish them but at least if we can find the right person to continue with their training — that’s a big plus.
“What Claudia has done with her has just been amazing; to open up that new door for Glory as far as giving her more under-saddle experience and competing at the local shows has been so wonderful; she’s doing amazing!” continued Emie. “Glory went from being so neglected and being basically a broodmare to — after three different adopters — a place where she really does have a good future.”
Like many rescue organizations, HPL relies on fundraising. For the third year in a row, they’re hosting Art for Horses 2015, the Annual Edyth Horton Horse Protection League Art Show. The art show will benefit the Horse Protection League and artists alike and be held on August 21 to September 18 at the Lakewood Cultural Center in Lakewood, Colorado. For more information about the art show fundraiser and the Horse Protection League, visit www.thehorseprotectionleague.org/.
About the writer: Taylor Renner is a 2015 graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.S.A. in agricultural communication and a minor in animal science. She’s ridden and shown in the hunter/jumper and equitation disciplines for 12 years and is an avid photographer and writing enthusiast. She hopes to combine her love of horses and journalism into a lifelong career within the equine publishing industry.