In honor of Day of the horse, today I'm sharing some of my favorite equine rescue photos and stories. Every furkid, I have the joy and privilege of capturing leave hoof and paw prints on my heart, rescue animals especially so. When I first moved to Abbotsford in 2012, I worked with a local horse rescue and loved working with these beautiful equines. They all left unique hoof prints on my heart, and I'm so happy to share their stories with you today. I hope they inspire you as much as they all inspired me.
First up is the ever handsome Tao. Tao left giant hoof prints on my heart and my family's hearts as well, especially my nephews. Despite having long since found his forever home, Tao is often asked about, and when he thinks about animal adoption, Tao is the first to come to his heart. Tao's a gorgeous ex-racing thoroughbred who arrived underweight and wasn't super keen on people when he first came.
Over time, he warmed up to everyone, and he was an energetic, intelligent, and creative equine! Unfortunately, due to a reoccurring hoof infection, he was often on stall rest, and it caused him to get both bored and ornery some days, which was understandable. He was a handful, but he also made us laugh with his creative antics.
The Many Adventures of Tao while at the Rescue
My nephew met Tao on one of his trips out with my sister-in-law and her family to come to visit the horses. Tao barely touched his lips to my nephew's outstretched hands despite his great size as he bravely offered him some hay. Tao even nuzzled my younger nephew, who my sister-in-law was carrying in a carrier on her chest. It was great to see him as mesmerized by children as they were by him. It didn't take long for my older nephew to start referring to Tao as HIS pony. He would often inquire how his PONY was doing when I'd return from the horse rescue. Sadly, Tao was in the rescue for two years due to his orneriness, searching for just the right human to come along. My nephew started getting concerned for HIS PONY, who also shared his birthday, so he got Tao a birthday hat from the store to turn him into a unicorn because who doesn't want to adopt a unicorn? He was very worried his pony would never find a good home.
As fortune would have it, we got a new volunteer one day, and as soon as they saw each other, you could see the hearts in their eyes and cupids dancing above their heads. It was truly love at first sight. I'm so happy that I was able to capture some of their first moments together when they met, as fate would have it. It didn't take long for this special volunteer to get all the affairs for her to bring this beautiful boy home at last.
I still keep in contact with this dynamic pair and even had a chance to visit them in their home together and still regularly check in on Facebook with them. To say I'm happy for this fantastic duo is an understatement, and I can't wait to see where their next adventures take them!
The happiest of happy tails for them both
Mandy came into the horse rescue with her best friend in the world, another horse named Baby. Mandy had, over the years, was bred often, and her big belly was a reminder of that fact. So when she first arrived, the thought was that she was pregnant, but after several tests to be very sure, the realization came that her belly's size was due more to being overbred.
Mandy and Baby were lovely mares that left hoof prints on everyone in our family, including little miss Ozzy who came with me to the horse rescue. Mandy was so very gentle that she was the one that my nephews learned how to brush, was the first horse my eldest nephew got to walk around a round pen, and that even followed little miss Ozzy when we'd go for a walk. Ozzy, it seems, to Mandy, was the pack leader. Ozzy would take the lead, and Mandy would bring her nose to her level and keep it there while she followed Ozzy's happily wagging tail.
The many adventures of Mandy and her best friend, Baby.
Baby, was adopted first, as she had started lessons on being taught to wear a saddle and have a rider on her. However, due to her big belly, Mandy could not have a rider and was waiting to be the fantastic companion horse she knew she could become.
When her new family found her, they adored her and gave her a beautiful life where she is now a great companion. When I got the chance to photograph her in her new home, I was over the moon with joy. This particular girl had waited so long for a home, and I was excited to see her flourishing in it. I was, however, joyfully surprised when she heard us coming and got excited. She hadn't forgotten us, it seemed, and she enjoyed catching up with us as much as we enjoyed getting to see her again too.
Mandy's happiest of tails being the best companion a horse could ask for
Jessie's Story - The horse who stole my heart
Jessie and Mollie. Thinking of these sweet girls still brings tears to my eyes. When they arrived, they were such best friends that they did everything in synch together. Walk, eat, you name it, it was always a well-choreographed performance. It took my breath away.
At the time, I'd only been photographing at the rescue for a few months, and I did only photography; I knew little about horse care, so I left that to the other volunteers who did until these two ladies came into my life.
While Mollie was doing fantastic from the moment she arrived, Jessie had health issues. Her front legs were injured, and she spent a lot of time having them wrapped or iced or both. Due to being short-handed, I was asked one day to hold Jessie while they covered the bandages around her legs. It was right then that special mare stole my heart. She leaned her fuzzy head into my chest and just let out an enormous sigh as I stroked her cheek. As someone with chronic health issues and chronic pain, I felt for this special girl, and I think she knew that on some level.
After that day, the volunteers decided to help teach me slowly and carefully how I could help with Jessie, at least to start. First, I learned how to halter Jessie, although it took several tries, and I may have put it on upside down or backward a time or two while I swear Jessie chuckled at me and rolled her eyes. Then came brushing, and it was as relaxing for me as it was for sweet Jessie. Lastly, I learned how to help with breakfast which was Jessies favorite time of day! Hoof care, however, would wait until much further down the road, with other equines happy to teach this silly human how to do the basics of care.
Jessie & Mollie
When I finally got the email that Mollie was ready to go up online for adoption, I did a big happy dance. While I was sad for Jessie, I knew it was the right thing for Mollie. Sadly, the morning she was due to head to her new home, she got colic, and as many of you know, that is never a good thing. So Mollie crossed the rainbow bridge at the rescue just before getting her wish of having a forever home.
Jessie never really recovered from Mollie crossing the rainbow bridge without her. Her legs still hurt, and without her friend, she started to give up on life. It broke my heart to see how much she grieved for Mollie. So when I got the call that Jessie would be crossing the rainbow bridge, a piece of my heart shattered. It still does whenever I tell her story, even now, all these years later, my eyes well with tears for this beautiful mare. So I grabbed my camera, and we went for one last stroll in the pasture together to capture some buttercup-filled memories.
Jessie was my heart horse. She was and still is why I'm passionate about working with horses, not only those in rescue seeking homes but also those who have found their happiest of tails and the people they love most. Jessie taught me about horse care and so much about photographing horses. I am eternally grateful for her patience and love, and I take great comfort in the fact that I know, one day, she'll be there nickering at the rainbow bridge, ready to take me for a ride across it.
One last stroll before the rainbow bridge
I loved my time photographing these amazing furkids and helping them all find the happiest tails they all so greatly deserved. I love hearing how they are doing now and look back on time spent with them with joy in my heart.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing some of my favorite rescue horse stories that I had the honor of capturing, and I hope it inspires you to lend a helping hoof to a horse rescue and the equines in their care near you. And if you're a horse rescue nearby, please don't hesitate to give me a bark!
Other Favorite Rescue Equine Photos