Monday, April 6, 2009

Helping the Horses

Adopting a horse is a big deal. Its not something you just wake up one day and decide to do. Especially when you have other obligations like, lets say, a family to support; and while my husband took his marriage vows seriously, I think sometimes he secretly wonders about that part in there that talks about "for better or worse"....because,there are times, I've got to say, where he is thinking that "worse" part shows up alot around here. Add to the mix two little girls who have ever changing needs and two pretty big dogs. My friend and I figured out that it costs about $6.00/day to keep a horse. And I think thats a pretty modest estimate. We were just talking hay and feed-we didn't factor in the farrier or vet or labor-or any of the things you actually do with a horse, like trail riding or showing. That's a whole new ball game-I guess I'm pretty lucky my husband loves me so much that he is willing to let me follow my 1100 pound dream....
I think he understands that inside some of us, there's this deep desire to connect with these beautiful animals. I can't explain it, its a certain feeling, and you might never understand what I am trying to describe. For some its about competing and winning ribbons and recognition. For me, its about learning how to communicate with my horse. I want to develop a special partnership with her; where she and I have a mutual understanding and respect for each other and she actually wants to be a part of what I have planned for us when we spend time together. When I'm with her, I feel centered and at peace with myself. She has really helped me to focus more on what is important-to slow down and live in the moment. I've been through some pretty tough times in my life, and she has really helped me to heal.
While I understand the whole concept of teaching a horse who is "boss," I still feel there other approaches where less intimidation is involved. After watching the following video, I now have a renewed inspiration and dedication to try harder when I'm with her.

When I first got my horse I was hoping she would be this warm,fuzzy, big puppy dog. What I got was a this gorgeous creature who had been through so much in her short seven years. I got to thinking I am probably expecting too much of her, too soon. She often comes across as aloof, but who can blame her-she came off the track in 2007in New York, she had been racing for five years since she was two; I guess she didn't make the grade-(wasn't fast enough) and ended up going to Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program in NY for a short time. She was then shipped down to a well respected rescue here in PA called Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue. She got the special privilege of becoming a DC Park Police officer in training through this rescue, all the police horses are dontated. But somewhere along the line their trainer determined that her small build was not well suited for some of those big police-officer types and they opted to put her up for adoption. I also heard through the grapevine that she didn't like being in traffic. Poor thing-I know we moved up here to get away from that!
Its just going to take time to build up trust, and like they say, nothing good comes easy. Sometimes the tiniest bit of progress means more to me than the biggest victories. I am thrilled when she comes up to greet me in the field. I am working on making sure she knows I am her person. You can tell when I'm working her that she would much rather be doing something else. Preferably eating grass, eating hay, eating carrots, eating grain-eating, eating, eating! (And rolling and frolicking in the field-so much more fun than working in the round pen!) I am trying to give her some space and let her enjoy discovering what its like to be a real horse-she's really just a big kid-a half ton kid with the mind of a two year old child.

Of course my adventures with "Unicorn Girl" (as I have fondly nicknamed her from making fancy hairdos out of her mane when rolling in the fields) wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Jo Diebel, founder of Angel Acres Horse Haven. Jo has a sterling reputation for rescuing and re-training off the track thoroughbreds in new careers-from the show ring to the trails, her horses are all very close to her heart and each has his or her own special story.

And right now is a very exciting time for Jo. She has made the top 10 in a $1 million shelter makeover contest sponsored by
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Press Release & Angel Acres
Glenville, PA -- Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue has made it to the “Top 20” in a $1 million shelter makeover contest sponsored by, a web site for animal and pet lovers.

“The contest has made more people aware that American horses are ending up on dinner plates in European and Asian restaurants and that homeless horses are suffering terrible treatment and a horrifying death,” says Jo Deibel, founder of Angel Acres. “We just finished a new video to help educate more people so they take action to help stop this practice.”

Says Deibel, “We’ve had media outlets all over the world from New Zealand to Japan cover this so whatever happens with the contest, Zootoo is helping to stop horse slaughter. We’re grateful to’s founder, Richard Thompson, for helping to shine a light on the issue of horse abandonment and horse slaughter,” says Deibel. “With the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes fast approaching it’s a great time for people to discuss this further.”

The Zootoo team traveled to all Top 20 shelters in March including Angel Acres, to assess needs, community support and best practices. The next step will be at the April 7th Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas when the Zootoo team will name the top 10 shelters for public voting April 13-19.

“Then, if we’re selected, it’s all up to America to vote for Angel Acres from these top 10 and decide who will win the million dollar makeover,” says Deibel. “Angel Acres has a unique spot, just two horse rescue shelters made it to the Top 20; good Lord willing, we make it all the way. I know if the horses could vote they most certainly would…their lives depend on it.”

Visit today to see how you can make a difference-here's your chance to support a very worthy cause-register and vote for Angel Acres as the shelter you want to win the makeover. Think of just how many more horses that could benefit from this wonderful rescue. They all have a story to tell you if you just take the time to be quiet and listen.

We know you can do it, Angel Acres!

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