After purchasing a horse property in Brighton, Colo., Samantha O. decided to search for a second riding horse and companion for her gelding, Storm. She discovered the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center™ through an online search and upon visiting was very impressed with the facility. Says Samantha, “It was obvious to me that they care about the health of the animals.”
In July 2016, Samantha adopted Starfire, a 15-year-old paint mare who came to Harmony from Network Colorado Horse Rescue as part of a pilot training program financed by a grant from WaterShed Animal Fund. The two-year program provides professional training to horses from rescues and humane societies in order to increase their chances for adoption, and as of July 1, 254 horses had been enrolled and 202 adopted through the program.
Recalls Samantha, “Starfire was a spirited Arabian with a lot of fire and energy, but I could tell that she was smart and had a willingness to learn.” Indeed, Starfire had spent four months with Harmony trainer Brent Winston learning to harness her independence and high energy. Once in her new home, Starfire required additional training from Samantha, who says the mare was very touchy under saddle and had extreme separation anxiety when taken away from Storm. “I worked a lot on her ground manners due to her pushy past of being spoiled rotten before arriving at Harmony,” says Samantha. “Now I can have a beginner adult ride her with no problems, I can ride her bareback and I ride her solo on the trail. She comes running when she sees me but is respectful of my space.”
In March 2017, Samantha fell in love with Luna, a 1-year-old pinto filly who was transferred to Harmony after having been removed from a neglectful owner in San Miguel County, Colo. An energetic, smart and somewhat skittish filly, Luna learned how to lead, halter and pick up her feet while at Harmony. When Samantha adopted Luna and took her home, Storm accepted her right away—but Starfire hated the new arrival. Says Samantha: “Everything used to scare Luna, and she wouldn’t even let people pet her. I keep her in her own pen inside my other horses’ paddock so she can interact without getting hurt. Now she lets me put a halter on and walk her around the neighborhood like a big dog. I desensitized her to ropes, bags, loud noises, fly spray and so much more. She went from scared and timid to loving and pushy, so we’ve been working on respect. And Starfire and Luna are getting along now!”
In addition to loving life with all three horses, whom she describes as “well loved but not spoiled,” Samantha says: “I absolutely love Harmony, the trainers who work there and the fact that they match the horse to the person. You can’t just walk into Harmony and say, ‘I have money and I want that horse!’ The trainers make sure you can handle the horse before adopting it out. It is so important to find someone capable of controlling the animal and helping it move forward rather than revert back to bad habits and dangerous behaviors. The trainers at Harmony Equine Center are amazing and honest about the horses they train. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I got Starfire and Luna!”
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