A Rescue Horse


That for which every horse longs in their sweetest dreams–a horse-crazy teenage girl to love them.

Photo by Jerry Waters.

This is Patriot today.

Click here to see what Patriot looked like six months ago. Four horses were found wandering loose, abandoned by their owner, starving, in Ohio on September 11, 2011. Patriot was the most emaciated of the group. Six months of rehabilitation later, the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue has him back to weight and up for adoption.

He’s a 10-year-old gelding, and so sweet, you’d almost put a baby on his back. I got on his back, which says something since I don’t know how to ride and wasn’t sure whether or not I might even be afraid of horses. But I wasn’t afraid of him.

I want a gentle, easy-going horse for Morgan. She has riding experience, but still. I’m very protective of her. I don’t want her to get broken. This horse hardly wants to do anything but walk. I said, THIS HORSE IS PERFECT!

We went to Kentucky to see Patriot, just over the KY/WV line to a beautiful farm owned by one of the rescue group members. Horses are rescued for many reasons, involving neglect, abuse, and starvation. They’re rescued from farms, auctions where horses are sold for slaughter, or from the streets–wandering loose and abandoned, like Patriot. Especially in today’s economy, there are a lot of sad stories. Today’s rescue horses are most often financial problems, not behavioral problems, combined with people who either don’t know how–or refuse–to do the right thing when they can no longer afford their horses.

But there are also happy endings for some horses, the ones that are fortunate enough to be rescued, like Patriot, loved back to health, and put up for adoption.

When Morgan asked to ride Patriot, he was brought out of his stall and saddled up.

Morgan took riding lessons for about four years. Her lessons included not just riding, but care and grooming and, yes, they made the kids muck out the stalls, too.

Patriot ran off a little energy in a ring first before he was brought to a larger enclosure where Morgan got on his back.

She was in heaven but–

Patriot didn’t want to do anything but walk.

While nothing is really known of Patriot’s background, they believe he may have been trained as a trail horse because of his behavior under saddle. And he’s not a lead trail horse, either. He’s a follower. Morgan’s friend, Felicia, spent the weekend at our farm and came out to see the horses with us. Eager to go a little faster, Morgan talked her friend into playing the lead to Patriot’s follow.

It was hilarious the way he’d follow and go faster if someone would run ahead of him. Here’s a little video:

Adoption is a process, so of course we left without taking a horse home with us.

We’re exploring the possibility of giving Patriot home. I’ll let you know if we get him!

In the meantime, you can find the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue at the following links, and even if you can’t give a horse a home, you can still donate to horse rescue if you like.

Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue
Lucas Farm
Heart of Phoenix on Facebook
Heart of Phoenix Blog

Meanwhile, Morgan spent two hours yesterday “cleaning out” the stall she has set aside for her horse. I say “cleaning out” because I’m not sure what she was cleaning since the only animals that have been in the stall are the goats, a few times when it snowed this winter, but I think she just wants me to know she’s ready to work for her horse!

She’s pretty much in love.


  1. bonita says:

    I know nothing about horses, BUT if rescue horses are like rescue dogs, they’ll come with some built-in behaviors, even so, they will do all they can to tell you “thanks for giving me a home.”

  2. Goldenval says:

    I’m so happy for Morgan; I know the excitement she feels. I got a horse when I was 8. Although I know you want a docile horse because you want Morgan SAFE, I think this horse may be TOO docile. One of the greatest enjoyments of horse ownership and riding is galloping down the two-track – you and the horse as one, the wind blowing through your hair. Patriot may be persuaded to put forth some energy if he sees another horse doing it; only problem, Morgan has only ONE and will be riding alone most of the time. And, not to fault Morgan in any way, but she IS a teen and teens want to feel that riding freedom. In her attempt to get Patriot to do these things….and she will try….could prove to be dangerous if he isn’t sure-footed from practice. Please please find someone who has a lot of knowledge about horses and get their opinion; there are thousands of rescue horses hoping for adoption. Misha of “From my front Porch” is an absolute sweetheart and I know she can and will give you expert advice. She lives in East Tennessee. Drop her a line. https://frommyfrontporchinthemountains.blogspot.com/
    She may even have personal knowledge of an available horse or two.

  3. Rose H says:

    Dear Patriot, my heart aches for these poor abondoned souls….
    I can see that a lot of love and care has done wonders for him, hope Morgans dreams are able to come true and Patriot finds his forever home 🙂

  4. Remudamom says:

    Please, please don’t let Morgan ride in tennis shoes. Even the best of horses (like my Katie Belle) can slip or stumble, and a foot through a stirrup can mean being dragged by a frightened horse. Especially with the kind of stirrups on that saddle. Not to mention a spook or the countless other things that can happen. The only predictable thing about a horse is that they are unpredictable. End of rant. Sorry.

    How did Morgan like that saddle? It’s Australian, I have one like it. Very down under!

  5. kdubbs says:

    patriot looks like a nice quiet guy. Do we know if he can perform all three gaits under saddle (walk, trot, and canter)? This is something to think about, because there are horses out there with no real experience cantering under saddle, and a novice rider isn’t the person to try to teach a horse to balance itself as it learns to canter. If Patriot really was a follow-the-tail-in-front trail horse, he really may not have a clue about cantering. Morgan might be walking and trotting at first as she gets back into the swing of riding, but eventually, she’ll want to canter. Just a thought!

  6. Remudamom says:

    I don’t use my Aussie very often, but one time when I had a big horse spook badly I was happy to have the poleys. They kept me from walking home. 8)

  7. cabynfevr says:

    I work at a draft horse rescue here in CT so it warms my heart to see this!

  8. NancyL says:

    Today Patriot is a lovely horse with a kind, beautiful face. I’m glad you left the before picture in a separate link so readers have a choice – but I looked, and nearly cried. Praises to the rescue group. And tell her friend Felicia that she makes a wonderful horse! I hope Patriot can be encouraged to stretch out without needing a leader.

  9. princessvanessa says:

    I know you said that Morgan learned how to groom a horse at her riding lessons. I’m wondering if that included cleaning a gelding’s (or stallion’s) sheath?

    It is a rather unsavory job that has to be done for any male horse. The sheath has to be kept clean so there is less likelihood of a bean forming. Sometimes a bean will form even with regular cleaning. You can google “how to clean a horse’s sheath” to see what this involves. If Morgan or you can’t do the cleaning a vet can do it….but that is an added cost to caring for your male horse.

    She might want to consider a mare (or filly).

  10. Angela P says:

    Thank You!!! I was in aniaml rescue for 15 years. Nothing makes me happier than to hear of animals getting a second chance. We adopted two recue horese Casper and Chance. There are no words for how much we love them and they us. Its a process. They, like shattered humans come with baggage. Lots of love, hugs, cookies and patience. Morgan and Patriot will be BFF’s before you know it. Casper is my sons horse. They are two peas in a pod! They “joke” with each other. Jake will no sooner have him all groomed and Casper is turned back out to pasture, Casper looks for Jake to “notice” him pawing the ground, getting ready to roll in a nice fresh patch of mud! Jake calls out “CASPER! Dont you dare!” Casper runs off to the next spot and the story starts all over agin. Until, he does it ,rolls in the mud! Thats their joke. The stories I could tell…Thank You for giving a horse a second chance…great book to read also.
    Glad to see you back in the saddle again Morgan. Now mom needs a horse! Hint. Hint. Suzanne

  11. goodgirl says:

    I am one of those horse crazy girls! I have always loved horses. I was thirteen when I got my first horse – dream come true! He was a retired racehorse, and I couldn’t have loved him more! I too had his stall ready and waiting. I had done all that I could think of to show my parents that I was ready for this! I have had horses ever since. Currently have two – a twenty-six year old quarter horse, and a ten year old warmblood. The warmblood needed a lot of rehabilitation. It is worth every minute spent trying to get them better so they can have a good life!

  12. aprilejoi says:

    Oh my. Judging by the look in the eyes of both Morgan and Patriot in photo 5, I would say they are both smitten. I hope life turns out well for Patriot. He looks like he deserves a devoted teenage girl. <3

  13. SarahGrace says:

    How exciting! I hope it all works out!

  14. LadyMau says:

    How exciting! Rescuing is a joyous experience for both parties involved. Please make sure Patriot gets a thorough vet check before you take him home. Not wanting to run could mean a back or hoof issue. If he doesn’t like a bit could be he needs his teeth floated too. Have him fit for a saddle so that’s not an issue either. A bad fitting saddle could make even the gentlest horse do bad things if it hurts. I hope all is well and he gets the home he deserves!

  15. EightPondFarm says:

    Hooray for the Horse Rescue people of this world. But I gotta say, Patriot looks more like a pony to me than a horse. He’ s under 14 hands, right? I don’t know how tall Morgan is (I know she plays basketball), but she should have a ride taller than this fellow (sweet as he is). Of course, love is blind…

  16. lizzie says:

    So happy that Morgan will get a horse. I was a horse crazy teenage girl and worked mucking stalls and taking care of horses before my parents bought me a horse. The rescue horses are beautiful, with sad stories, I am so HAPPY that some of the horses will find loving forever homes. Really enjoyed seeing Morgan on a horse, I rode bare back most of the time until we could afford to buy a saddle, and read everything I could get my hands on about horses. Wishing you many happy memories with your new horse Morgan. :fairy:

  17. annag says:

    Please get her a HELMET – I know lots of people dont believe that they are needed – we dont let our kids ride a bike without one but we think nothing of putting them on a 1000 pound animal that can buck and run off (no matter how nice and gentle they are – they are a flight animal and a walmart sack flying across the ground can set even a bomb proof horse off) without a helmet. Please make her wear one whenever she rides!

  18. ladyroxanne says:

    Beautiful story! I hope you adopt Patriot, you would give him a beautiful and loving home! Thanks for sharing!

  19. SuzzyQ says:

    Made me smile and get teary. I love that Patriot may end up at your farm. He deserves a
    great place to live. :yes:

  20. Leslie@Farm Fresh Fun says:

    I love this beautiful story and pics! Too many wonderful horses need new homes. THANK YOU for helping to rescue and repair one broken heart. Must add tho that I too am very worried by image of a rider with no helmet or heeled shoes. Best way not to get Morgan “broken” is to ALWAYS get her dressed safely – ESPECIALLY the first time on a new horse. Wishing Morgan and Patriot many happy miles together!

  21. Lajoda says:

    Just 2 more cents worth. I don’t think Patriot is Mr Right. Patriot is Mr. Right Now. He will be adopted without a doubt. He will be perfect for a child who will love him too. He’s not enough horse for Morgan, she just wants one very badly and she comes equipped with the rescue gene. (wonder where she got that?) Put a child ready to adopt Patriot and a perky sweet horse needing adoption in the scenario and consider the outcome.
    All said in my humble opinion,

  22. wsmoak says:

    Please, please, insist that she wear a helmet! I know many of us grew up riding without one, and it’s less common in the Western disciplines, but it could help her avoid a serious brain injury. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awJDYBhBPzk and check out the https://www.riders4helmets.com/ site for more info.

  23. Goodnewsfarm says:

    We have a horse that was a rescue and we named her Gracie because we thought by the grace of God will she make it home. She road in a trailer for 3 hours and never messed in it. We put on about 200 lbs of weight on her she looked worse then your gelding. She is a beautiful Tn Walking horse that my husband said has the best ride he has ever been on. She has trust issues still after 3 years and likes me more than him. I’m guessing she was abused by a man but still she is hard to catch. Once you have her she is a sweetheart. Good luck if you decide but always keep in the back of your mind the issues you could have especially being new horse people. Not being able to be a leader could prove to be a problem even on a trail. He can learn!

  24. Vegasone says:

    My daughter is a top notch equestrian and makes her living riding horses. We went through the horse crazy period. Here is what you need to do. Give her some riding lessons. She is a beginner. This horse may or may not be trained. I think he is pretty green. A well-broke horse which is what she needs will teach her. He is not always a happy horse under saddle as evidenced by his body language in both videos. Now he is probably a very kind horse. What you need to do is to hire a professional to come and evaluate him. See what he knows. Does he give to pressure, does he neck rein, does he back, stop. Then push him. Make him go through walk, trot and canter. You don’t want a first horse for her that will not pass the work test nor do you want a horse that will not go to the front, middle or back willingly. See how he is on the ground. Does he pick up his feet, does he yield to pressure. How is he around noise and dogs. Then, if he is deemed appropriate, get a vet out there to do a health check. Most rescues are short of money and skimp on vet care. Does he need a float, has he had his wolf teeth pulled. Has he had 5-way, West Nile, tetanus, rabies and whatever else. And had his sheath cleaned as another reader mentioned. How are his feet? Does he have any soundness issues? Horses are extremely expensive investments and while most of them can be fixed, it costs a lot of money. And last, she needs a helmet and proper boots. My daughter rides in a safety vest and helmet and has fallen off many times. I have been to the emergency room with her on numerous occasions during her career.

  25. Jess says:

    I kept horses in the past. It would take too many paragraphs to explain the long process that led to acquiring the horses, but in short, I was raised in the city and was completely unprepared for the responsibility.

    I’d say Patriot is the perfect first horse. Being gentle is more important than anything else. After experiences of being attacked by horses and bucked to the pavement by a high strung Palomino, a horse that you’d trust around a baby is a huge plus.

    The internet has a wealth of information on the care and training of horses. Over time, you learn the methods that minimize the costs and still provide the horse with crucial nutrition and health care. It doesn’t require a vet to worm, or provide some injections for a horse. As you progress, you learn the sources for supplies and keep them on hand for use. Omaha Vaccine is a good source.

    A farrier is probably one of the most important people to seek in the beginning. Watching them as they work allows you to see the correct methods for caring for the feet. After purchasing a few inexpensive tools, you can take over this care and only require the farrier for occasional visits; especially if the horse requires shoes for where you ride.

    While riding, I learned that the critters in nature have a different attitude about a horse and rider than they do of a human alone. Your travels lead you to observations of nature that were never available before. It’s a unique experience and you’re treated to events that will enrich your memories.

  26. Teresa says:

    Patriot looks like a gentle soul. The connection between a horse and rider is very important. My horse, Jasper, can be a stuborn pain in the butt, but he would never do anything to hurt me and does everything I ask when in the saddle. I bought him as a green broke 3 year old. Some would say not the smartest idea, but I loved him from the start and he loved me. If Morgan and Patriot are a match everything will work out.

    My second horse, Kate, came from Heart of Pheonix. She is a beautiful white quarter horse arabian mix. She listens great, much better than Jasper. I am sure that Patriot is up-to-date on all his vet care. They take great care of their rescue horses!

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