Emily & Izzy

I love dogs too, Ruby is our family companion, but ours is a horse story as we live on the plains of Colorado. Dogs and horses are so intelligent and understanding. I hope you see why I’ve chosen to share our horse story.

Emily & Izzy

In the summer of 2004 my four children and I started volunteering at Rocky Mountain Foal Rescue, near Falcon, Colorado. I had seen a newspaper article about the organization, that they were looking for volunteers for cleaning stalls. I decided it would be a good way to introduce the kids to horses and the work that is involved with owning horses, prior to getting horses of our own. Little did I know the consequences of getting involved with a group that does such excellent work.

We were introduced to two of their rescues: Sterling, a Quarter Horse Arab cross that had been rescued from the slaughter sale, and Isabelle a little Arab yearling, also from that same sale. We were told that RMFR had seen this little horse at the auction before. She had been bought by a family and the rescue assumed she’d have a good life. However, the following month, the scrawny little Arab was back, and this time in danger of being bought by the kill buyer. Pam (RMFR’s president) began bidding on the under weight filly and ended up beating the killer’s price by ten dollars.

Working at the rescue, I began to be educated about what the “Kill Auction” is. I’d never heard of it before and just couldn’t put the idea in my head. Rocky Mountain Foal Rescue’s goal was to save young horses from the “killer”, but I didn’t understand. Pam began to tell me about how “back yard breeders” will turn their studs out with a herd of mares and the foals that are born for varying reasons aren’t wanted. They may have been born with a slight deformity, the wrong color or simply the owner just didn’t want the new arrival. The market is so flooded that only a select few are actually sold to homes. The rest are dumped at auctions where the killer buyers lurk. Horses, many injured, old, sick and young untrained, are run through for people to bid on. The killer pays as little as possible and loads large numbers of these unwanted souls onto a truck. They are trucked hundreds of miles to a processing plant, where they are killed and their meat sold for consumption over seas.

I was appalled as I looked at these horses and imagined what their fate would have been if Rocky Mountain Foal Rescue and Pam, hadn’t stepped in.

Isabelle was a pot bellied, scrawny yearling that we were told had been malnourished and neglected and therefor sent to the sale. She was quite a lover at the time we met her, a testament to how good RMFR is with these horses. When they first rescued her, she had been standoffish and scared of people.

My oldest daughter, Emily took to Isabelle right away, and always requested to clean “Izzy’s” stall. Izzy would follow her around like a puppy, watching her clean, smelling her sweater, and sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Emily soon asked to work Izzy in the round pen. Pam gave Emily instructions and accompanied her in the round pen. Izzy and Emily began to bond as I have never witnessed between a human and horse.

We continued to work at the rescue once a week for the summer. RMFR had also just started working with the BLM to help with Mustang adoptions. All the mustangs they had brought in had found wonderful homes, however the slaughter rescues were still waiting. One day I received an e-mail announcing a price reduction for RMFR’s rescued horses so they could be placed. I immediately spoke with my husband and he agreed we could not pass up the opportunity to adopt Izzy for Emily. There was no denying this special friendship, and now that she was a price we could afford, it was just meant to be.

We decided to keep it a secret from the kids for a while, but when Emily saw on the rescue’s web site that Izzy’s sale was pending, it was too much for me to bear and I had to spill the beans. We gave Emily the “Bill of Sale” to read aloud to everyone. I think neighbors five miles away could have heard the squeals of joy coming from our children!

We had to board Izzy at the rescue for a while until we had our barn and fence completed. However, it wasn’t long before Izzy was at home with us. Emily has taken her to several horse clinics, and recently people can’t believe she’s the same horse they’d met at earlier clinics. The first time the vet came out for vaccinations, her assistant said, “What a cutie!” and the vet replied with disbelief in her voice, “You think so?” Her last visit here, she said, “I can’t believe this is the same horse. She’s fabulous!”

The bond between Emily and Izzy is just amazing. Emily can ask Izzy to do anything and Izzy trusts her with her very life. While still being boarded at RMFR’s facility, they hosted a horse clinic on ground training with professional trainer Clay Harper. We decided to attend and just observe as we were new to the whole thing. As the day progressed I found Emily at Izzy’s stall more often than paying attention to the clinician. At lunch I asked Clay Harper if it would be all right if Emily took her horse out to play with her. I explained she just found out we’d bought the little filly and was anxious to spend time with her. He was very gracious, and invited Emily to take part in the clinic. Proudly, Emily walked Izzy into the arena, strode to the opposite side and stood quietly talking to her new friend. As an example of how laid back this little filly is, she promptly laid down in the middle of the exercise being taught. Clay was stunned to say the least! He immediately praised Emily about the bond she had generated with this horse, as it’s just not normal for a horse to lay down on the lead at it’s owner’s feet! He instructed her on how to continue to build on this trust by rubbing the horse all over. Izzy stayed down for about 5 minutes and Clay began to get alarmed, as this is just not normal behavior, and it was a hot day. He came over again and checked her gums and eyes and found everything normal. This is just one laid back and trusting horse! To this day, she will be lying down in the pasture taking a nap, and Emily can go out and sit with Izzy’s head in her lap. Neighbor’s are just shocked when they see it!

Who knew that such a wonderful horse could be found at a rescue! I shudder to think what Isabelle’ s fate would have been if Rocky Mountain Foal Rescue hadn’t found her that summer day at the slaughter auction! All this precious little filly needed was a chance to become the fabulous horse she is now, who wins ribbons at 4-H shows and is a great friend. Our gratitude to RMFR is without measure. The work they do is special, and the horses they save are precious. Ours is only one story from a place that rescues over 100 horses a year!

Tina from CO