When 80 gravely neglected horses came to the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center last summer, hope was frankly in short supply. Individually and collectively, these horses were in critical condition when law enforcement and investigators from the Colorado Humane Society (CHS), a program of the League, transported them to Harmony for emergency care. Most of the herd were emaciated, with many suffering from respiratory and strangles infections, seeping wounds, and severe physical injuries. Some struggled to even lift their overgrown feet from the ground.

Once they arrived, our CHS and Harmony staff worked tirelessly to provide each horse with essential nourishment, urgent veterinary treatment, pain management, and loving affection. As evening quickly approached, our physically and emotionally weary teams could not have imagined what the following day would bring: pure joy, in the form of a clumsy and adorable foal born overnight to one of our newest Harmony residents, England. “We came in the next morning, and there she was—healthy as can be,” said our Equine Field Services Veterinarian, Dr. Courtney Diehl, reflecting on the sweet new arrival.

Newborn Burmese was literally a sight for sore eyes – both human and equine. The lanky foal’s youthful liveliness provided a welcome contrast to the dark cloud that had preceded her only hours ago. Surrounded by the love of her mama and our team of caregivers, Burmese was already thriving in the first environment she had ever known. Perhaps England, too, knew that she was finally safe at Harmony, and that her baby would be as well. Shortly after Burmese took her very first steps, England began stepping toward a better life with our team by her side.

As the months passed, the two grew healthier and stronger together. By fall, it was time for Burmese to be weaned from her mother and for each horse to prepare for adoption through continued rehabilitation, trust-building, and training. Just before the holidays, the remarkable little filly received a visit from Nichole and her husband, the family that would soon be hers.

“In my heart, I was like, ‘oh, that’s my horse … [she’s] the one!’” Nichole remembers feeling when she first met Burmese. Having recently retired her beloved senior horse, Kayenne, Nichole was originally looking for a 2-3-year-old riding horse. But she simply couldn’t resist Burmese’s charm and potential. The more Burmese frolicked in the Harmony pasture that day, so happy and carefree, the deeper Nichole fell in love.

Today, Burmese – now known as Aelin – is hard at work with her new family, learning ground manners and preparing to be a riding horse. Most importantly, she is experiencing all the fresh and wonderful things life has to offer – and keeping her adoring fans laughing along the way. According to Nichole, she’s “amazingly smart” with a personality to match. “She’s honestly hilarious!” Nichole says.

In good times and bad, Aelin has been a reliable source of hope, joy, and solace for “her people” – including everyone at the Dumb Friends League. Nichole shared that Aelin even learned a thing or two from Kayenne in their short time together before Kayenne’s passing. In particular, Nichole says Aelin warms her heart by greeting her with the same distinct “nicker” vocalization that Kayenne used for years.

As for sweet England, she is still slowly but surely learning to trust again as the dedicated staff at Harmony continue to help her learn the ropes. Her trainers and caretakers look forward to the day when she and other horses at Harmony find loving homes and experience the life they have always deserved. 

Harmony Equine Center serves as one of the only programs in the country adequately equipped to receive and rehabilitate horses living in unsafe conditions, including large numbers of animals at once. It is because of our compassionate community of donors that we are able to care for herds of abused and neglected horses year after year, providing them with healing and hopeful new beginnings.

We hope you’ll join us at Harmony for LuluPawlooza on August 19 so that you can see the impact of our equine programming first hand. Thank you for your incredible support of the Dumb Friends League and the animals in our care.