By Britney Grover
It’s obvious that Allison “Ally” Smith is passionate about caring for others—both horse and human. While running her own sporthorse business and also studying to be a nurse, Ally founded a horse rescue from her barn in Warrenton, Virginia.
Ally has been riding since she was 9 years old, and got her first pony for Pony Club when she was 10. “I was pretty feral growing up, so my pony was a very good girl!” she said. Ally began her youth career with Lynn Symansky, then groomed and was a working student all through high school and college while learning to bring horses through the levels. After college, Ally focused on show jumping for a couple of years and now, with her own Evermore Equestrian LLC, does both show jumping and eventing.
In 2020, Ally and her wife, Olivia, rescued a Dutch Harness Horse named Colby. Seeing Colby’s transformation and how much people loved to follow his journey on Olivia’s TikTok channel @ohkaytacos made pursuing the process of creating a 501(c)(3) charity natural, and Colby’s Crew Rescue was born.
Who are you helping?
We’re helping horses around the country directly from the slaughter pipeline. We rescue horses from legit slaughter kill pens, auctions and sometimes right off of the slaughter truck itself. We like to focus on large draft horses that are mostly thrown away after working in the fields their whole life, as well as Dutch Harness Horses, who are usually ex-carriage horses.
What inspired you to find a way to give back?
The rescue’s two main horses—Colby, rescued August 2020, and Big John, rescued April 2021—inspire us daily to give back. Seeing how these two horses have blossomed into amazing animals inspires us to rescue more. Big John is just a magical creature; standing at 20 hands tall, he is covered in scars and injuries from years of work and service his body has been through, just to be thrown away. He is just the sweetest old soul, and every time I see a large draft workhorse in the kill pen, I think of how they could also be like Big John. Because of this, we started the Big John Initiative that states our goal of “Not One More” workhorse going to slaughter.
When you started, what was your goal? Where are you now?
When Olivia started her TikTok channel, her goal was to make funny videos. She started documenting Colby’s journey, and we both had a goal of raising awareness of slaughter-bound horses. Now, we have over 1.4 million followers and our own rescue!
What have you learned through what you’ve been doing?
We’ve learned so much. We have made mistakes, laughed, cried, given blood, sweat and tears over the past year of building this rescue. But what we have learned the most, I think, is that horses are resilient animals. Some of them we get too late, and they cannot be saved. But I’ve learned the greatest feeling is seeing the ones we could save march onto the trailer headed to their forever home, all because our rescue and support allowed us to save them.
What challenges have you faced as you’ve done this, and how have you overcome them?
We’ve faced many challenges in starting a rescue—first of all, there’s a lot of paperwork! Most challenges are dealing with the harder horses, the ones that we cannot save or we get to too late. I never knew that saying goodbye to a horse we barely know could be so difficult. I try to tell myself that a peaceful ending is far better than a week-long trip to Mexico and a terrible ending, but it’s hard not to think about how some of these horses would be thriving if humans had never treated them so poorly.
What are your goals for the future?
Colby’s Crew’s goals for the future are to keep expanding! We’re so excited to be expanding properties soon, to offer more ways to follow along on social media, more access to Big John and, of course, to rescue more horses! I’m also looking forward to being able to expand Evermore Equestrian LLC.
What would you like to tell others who want to do good in their community?
Just keep trying and be kind to everyone! We’ve had so much support and have made so many friends along the way; it’s important to treat everyone with respect and kindness. This alone will do good in your community.
Follow Ally and Colby’s Crew Rescue @ohkaytacos on TikTok, Instagram, Patreon and YouTube, or visit their website colbyscrewrescue.org.