Missy: Long time, no home

Missy and Joey Grazing

When Barna W. and her family had to put down their 31-year-old quarter horse, Reggie, earlier this year, they were heartbroken. Shortly afterwards, when Reggie’s 14-year-old thoroughbred companion, Joey, began showing signs of loneliness and depression, they became worried about him. So the family set out on a search for a horse that needed a home and could keep Joey company.

Barna came across the Harmony Equine Center while searching online for a horse, and having never adopted a horse before, she says they were expecting to see a dirty, overcrowded facility where the horses were “packed in like sardines” and fighting for their food. Instead, says Barna, “When we pulled up to Harmony, our jaws dropped to see a state-of-the-art facility that was impeccably clean and well organized, where all the horses either had their own stalls with runs or large paddocks with only a couple horses in each. All the horses were well taken care of, clean and obviously well fed.”

One of those horses was Missy, a 26-year-old BLM-branded mustang with a collapsed eye. Missy and three other horses had been removed from a neglectful owner by law enforcement authorities in Greeley, Colo., in January 2015 and transferred to the Harmony Equine Center. For more than 500 days, Missy had been fed, groomed, trained and had her veterinary and farrier needs cared for at the center, but her age and pasture-pet status had made it a challenge to adopt her.

Barna and her family had seen Missy on the Dumb Friends League website, and while they wanted to give a senior horse a chance to live out its retirement in a loving home where it could be happy munching on the grass in a pasture with a friend, they had concerns about her. “Mustangs have been given a bad rap that they are a handful to take care of,” says Barna, “and with Missy being partially blind, I was not sure we had the experience or knowledge to take care of her safely.”

But when the family toured Harmony that day and met Missy, they were surprised at how calm and affectionate she was, even coming right up to the gate to let them pet her. Says Barna, “We were so impressed by the amount of training and handling given to the horses before they are put up for adoption, and also by the fact that no one was trying to get you to adopt a horse that was not a good match for you.”

Their concerns about Missy’s behavior dispelled, the family made a second visit, during which Missy again greeted them and wanted her chin scratched. As they were walking away from her paddock, Missy must have decided that after 18 months at the center, this was her best chance for a new home. Says Barna, “She perked her ears up and looked at me and stomped her foot on the ground, as if to say, ‘I am coming with you now!’ We all looked at each other and knew right then that she had stolen our hearts, and I think we may have made a good impression on her, too.”

When Missy arrived at the family’s home near Parker, Colo., she and Joey immediately hit it off. On their first meeting, they started grooming and nuzzling each other’s necks, and wherever one went, the other followed. Says Barna, “It was love at first sight.” Missy and Joey now have another companion—a rescue horse named Maggie—and the three have become best friends, waiting patiently together for breakfast and dinner, and playing in the pasture between meals.

Knowing that Missy was at the Harmony Equine Center longer than any other horse makes the family even happier that they have given her a forever home, says Barna. “We will do whatever we can to ensure she lives out a long and happy retired life.”