Clifford, the big red horse

Clifford with rider equine

Removed by Conejos County, Colo., law enforcement officials from a life of neglect, Clifford came to the Harmony Equine Center in August 2013. At just 442 pounds, the sorrel yearling was extremely skinny. Insecure, reactive and with major trust issues, Clifford was unused to being touched or caught, let alone haltered.

During his first several months at the center, our staff focused on helping Clifford gain some badly needed weight. Then, in December, Clifford was strong and healthy enough to enter our professional training program. For five months, he worked with our trainers in the round pen and arena, learning to trust humans, to be caught and finally to be haltered and lunged.

In May 2014, Sabine R. of Colorado Springs, Colo., made a spontaneous trip to the Harmony Equine Center with an acquaintance who had adopted from there. Sabine and her husband had talked about getting a horse of their own someday, but they weren’t actively looking since Sabine had just started veterinary technician school and was content to ride other people’s horses.

All that changed when Sabine met Clifford. “He was curious but very shy and insecure,” says Sabine. “I left Harmony to think things over and talk with my husband, but my gut told me, ‘This is it!’”

Not long after, Sabine visited Clifford a second time and worked with him in the round pen. “I could tell this was not going to be easy and fast as he had some trust issues, but again, my gut told me this was it.”

So Clifford, who weighed 760 pounds after nine months of care, went home with Sabine. He was put under saddle with the help of a trainer and boarded near Sabine’s home until October 2015, when the family moved to Georgia. Clifford was shipped to his new home in style on Equine Express and calmly stepped off the trailer like an old pro, much to Sabine’s relief.

Clifford has now been with Sabine for about two-and-a-half years. During that time, she says he has grown both physically and mentally. “We have had our trials and tribulations, but we’ve come so far, and our relationship has blossomed. Clifford is very intelligent, sensitive and a bit on the lazy side, but quite the character. I’ve been doing arena work and trail rides with him, and he seems to enjoy both as long as you switch it up some every time.”

Adds Sabine, “Clifford trusts me so much now that he comes running to me when he gets scared. He loves my kids and dogs and my friend’s horses. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. I love him to pieces!”