When Oliver, a 13 hand, nine year old paint pony, arrived at WHHOA Horse Rescue (We Help Horses of America) near Aiken, South Carolina, founders Shannon and Jerry Stratton hoped they could help him find a better life. While that’s the mission of a horse rescue, the Stratton’s believed that Oliver was a special pony who didn’t just need a second chance in life; he needed a fairy tale ending to his story.
Shannon contacted Sidelines Magazine and asked if the pony could appear in our Needy Nags column, a monthly photo column for horses and ponies available for adoption. Shannon knew that although Oliver had seen better days, under his scruffy coat and overgrown hooves was a diamond in the rough just waiting to be a wonderful pony for the right person.
As luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened. Dr. Kathleen Broughan, the founder and executive director of LEAP (Low Country Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy) based out of Charleston, South Carolina, was reading Sidelines when she spotted Oliver’s photo. “He just caught my eye,” Kathleen said. “Something about him was very appealing. Shannon was great and let us take him for a trial. He passed with flying colors. We changed his name to Bugby, because he’s now living on Bugby Plantation.”
Shannon is thrilled that the Needy Nags column not only worked; but that her sweet little rescue pony has a new lease on life. “We cleaned him up and dusted him off and gave him a new useful life with a great organization. LEAP is making a difference for the horses and the people they help. It’s a win-win!” she said.
LEAP is an Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy program that provides options for children, youth, adults and families whose needs aren’t being met in traditional therapeutic settings. “Horses are highly sensitive social creatures and they give immediate feedback to patients about their behavior and feelings. Through our program, our clients are getting a second chance, just like Bugby has, and because of that, rescuing Bugby has been extra meaningful to us,” Kathleen said. “Bugby’s learning his job and settling in and he’s going to have a happy life.”
Kathleen said that thanks to Bugby’s wonderful disposition, he is a natural fit as a therapy horse. “Almost all of our work is done on the ground and of course we need horses that aren’t aggressive. Our horses are used in creative activities so people can recognize their own behavior,” she said, adding that she had been looking for a pony to add to their program, and Bugby fit the bill.
Bugby’s story has warmed the hearts of many, and his adoption sheds light on the great job done by so many horse rescue organizations. “It’s a tough time in our economy and having a rescue organization right now is financially difficult,” Shannon said. While times are tough, Shannon said that experiences like Bugby’s, which includes the sweet pony getting his fairy tale ending, is what keeps her going. “I founded our organization over 10 years ago and although I’ve been placing horses in forever homes over the past decade, Bugby’s story still makes me smile. We took a ‘throw away’ pony that the previous owner’s didn’t want, and gave him a second chance at life.”
For more information on WHHOA, or to see other horses available for adoption, visit their website at www.whhoahorses.com or like them on Facebook. To learn more about LEAP, the programs they offer and the work that Bugby is doing, visit their website at www.LEAPinSC.org. Both organizations accept charitable donations, which are tax deductible.
-by Jan Westmark-Allen