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Story written by Courtney Thompson, submitted by Hope’s Legacy Rescue

History of Horses

I started riding horses when I was just five years old. At age nine, I started asking my parents for a horse of my own. My dad, who grew up on a dairy farm, suggested we get cows instead when well-meaning friends told him this horse-craziness was “just a phase.” (HA! Sorry, Dad!) I began taking lessons at a local riding stable and got involved in an amazing 4-H Horse Club. The leader, Judy, was incredibly influential in

my life and my horsemanship education. After about a year of that, she took my dad aside and told him I was more than ready for a horse of my own. (Thanks, Judy! Sorry again, Dad!)

By the time I was 11 years old, I had two horses, including the one that would become my “heart horse”- Cisco, an incredible Paint gelding. He was truly my best friend- I ended up owning him for 23 years until his unexpected death in 2014 at the age of 28. During my teen years, I was so fortunate to also end up owning a beautiful Quarter Horse gelding named Snoopy, who I showed competitively through high school and the first part of college. I sold him when I went away to college (heartbreaking, but it was the best thing for him. Cisco was leased to some good friends during that time). Through some really incredible circumstances, I was reunited with Snoopy in 2005 and had BOTH my boys at home with me to live out their retirement years.

Heartbreak turns to Hope

As I said, I lost Cisco on February 26, 2014. I was heartbroken- I still miss him. Snoopy adjusted well to being the “only child” (he lived with our cows, who constantly amused him) and lived a wonderful life until he passed away in November 2018, just a couple months shy of his 31st birthday. For the first time in 27 years, I was horse-less. Friends were sending me ads for horses for sale and links to adoption sites. My heart just wasn’t ready to fill those empty stalls.

I had heard of Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue but had never visited or volunteered. During the spring of 2019, I was into running 5Ks (luckily, a short-lived interest) and a Facebook ad for their upcoming “Hoofin’ It For Horses Trail Run” in May caught my eye. The farm is located close to my home, so I signed up, happy to support a great cause. During the FIRST MILE of the run, I twisted my ankle on a rock (I can still show you the spot where it happened!) and almost slid down a muddy hill into one of the volunteers (sorry, Carolyn!). Despite my less than enjoyable run, two things happened:

1) I was majorly impressed by the farm and how friendly and excited the volunteers were; and

2)… I saw HIM. In one of the fields, three geldings were joyously running and playing. HE was a gorgeous, shiny chestnut guy with the cutest face.

It was a rainy day, so I didn’t stick around after the race, but I immediately went home and filled out the volunteer application. Fast forward a few weeks and I came back for my orientation (which turned out to be a story in itself). That beautiful chestnut horse wasn’t in that field, and I wasn’t sure how to ask where he was without sounding like a stalker. Eventually, we came to another field and THERE HE WAS- Windcries, a five-year old Thoroughbred gelding who had been retired from a fairly successful racing career due to a minor injury. We locked eyes- I’m not kidding- and I knew he was special and meant to be mine. (Funny backstory, my husband was not a big fan of my “hayburners” and thought since my horses had passed away that we were out of the horse biz. Bless his heart.)

girl and brown rescue horse

I played it casual that day, did my orientation and signed up to volunteer. I came back several times over the next few weeks and loved every minute of it! Until one day I arrived and Windcries wasn’t there. I immediately texted another volunteer and found out he was spending the summer at a riding camp nearby. Whew. I still hadn’t thought of a good way to approach the subject of getting more horses with my husband.

Fast forward to later in the summer- Windcries was unfortunately injured at the riding camp (a ligament sprain, basically). It meant he needed to be on pretty strict stall rest for a few months while he recovered. He started that at Castle Rock Farm, but it was before the medical barn was built, so I convinced my husband to let me bring him to our house, where he could be on true stall rest and I could help rehab him. (Again, bless his heart. He really should have seen this coming- there was no scenario in which that horse was EVER leaving my possession.) He totally fell for it, I mean, he agreed, and on July 27, 2019, Windcries and Mae (who I agreed to foster so he’d have a buddy) arrived at my home.

One Horse Just Wasn’t Enough

As I got to know him, our bond deepened and deepened. He is just so special- he’s silly, and sweet, and goofy, and entirely lovable. I also found out his birthday is February 27, 2014- he was born the DAY AFTER my heart horse, Cisco, died. That is no coincidence. We bonded during his rehab- lots of cold hosing, lots of grooming, lots of walks. He was cleared by the vet in late fall 2019 and I officially adopted him in December 2019.

Since then, we’ve done lots of riding, some time with a local trainer to work on our skills, and he’s become even more special to me. We truly have a bond and it may sound silly to some, but he came at the just the right time to fill the horse-sized hole in my heart! I will always miss Cisco and Snoopy, but how lucky I am to have found THREE heart horses in my lifetime.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve adopted two other wonderful horses from HLER- Duke, an adorable Quarter Horse in his late teens (who has an amazing story of his own!), and Takoma, a gorgeous, super sweet Paint horse in his early 20s. The three of them are such a joy and I love nothing more than watching them graze peacefully in the field. I am so thankful to Hope’s Legacy and love giving back as a volunteer.

Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue was founded in 2008 when we took in our first donkey. Since then they have taken in over 450 horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys.

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Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue was founded in 2008 when we took in our first donkey. Since then they have taken in over 450 horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys.
About Hope Legacy Equine Rescue

Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue was founded in 2008 when we took in our first donkey. Since then they have taken in over 450 horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys.

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