“We are showing that rescues aren’t worthless, they can do anything,” says Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society President, Jennifer Williams, Ph.D. She says the Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge is about changing perceptions and making the Texas rescue’s horses more adoptable.
The Challenge pairs a foster with a rescue horse for three months. The experience is one in team building, education, and hopefully not too much excitement during the training for horse and human. More than $5000 in prizes and awards are up for grabs in October for this year’s group who started working with their equines, either under saddle or from the ground, earlier this month.
Williams says many of the animals are strays or come from law enforcement cases.
Texan Leslie Sawyer is participating in her third Challenge. She got involved in 2009 after the unexpected loss of her reining horse Hard Rock Siemon. Devastated – she didn’t want to go to the barn. A friend recommended Sawyer step back into horses by fostering and training a rescue. “He was a blessing and my “good deed” seemed to have helped me more than it helped him.” The chestnut gelding found his forever home with a family in Manor, Texas.
Sawyer is now training a former stray stallion who was roaming free and was eventually surrendered by his owner. She is now preparing the sorrel overo gelding, named Cash, for October’s event.
The experience culminates at the 6th Annual Bluebonnet Horse Expo on Saturday, October 19, where each horse and rider will compete in their suitable division. For the professional riders, there is a professional section, an under saddle division for the older horses ready for the work, the young horses will strut their stuff in the in-hand division, and the kids will even make a go of it against each other.
Good homes with the right people are the ultimate final goal. The training the geldings and mares receive from participants, who range in experience and age, enhances each animal’s adoptability. If you are interested in getting involved in the event there are a handful of horses still available to foster for training.
After the Challenge, each horse is made available for adoption. The good news for fosters is they have first right of refusal when it comes to adopting their training partner. This was great news for the 2012 Grand Champion Riva England who decided to give her beautiful grey Serafina (top) a permanent place in her heart and barn.
Even better news – Williams says every horse in the 2012 Challenge program was adopted, due to the commitment of those involved. “It is very emotional.”