Why bother with tough, complicated horses? There are many horses who are calm, sound, well-mannered and easy to ride/train. With these horses, you can concentrate on your own riding goals (competitive or recreational). Many trainers have the perspective that challenging horses (especially troubled or injured ones) will only hold you back from bigger accomplishments.
Wouldn’t this be doubly true for a small charity (like LOPE)? Most financially successful horse nonprofits rely on large adoption rates (100-400 annually). They take in horses that fit well into their training programs and with the interests/job requirements of repeat adopters, prospective new adopters and professional barns. Their adoption volume and success stories understandably attract many donors and sponsors, which creates a steady stream of donation revenue.
LOPE follows a different model. We are drawn to education work that helps aspiring young horse professionals learn from rehab and retraining situations. To do this well requires an in-depth approach, for both the horses in our care and the young interns learning from them. To provide this level of care, LOPE can only take in a few horses at a time within our current budget.
We are drawn to education work that helps aspiring young horse professionals learn from rehab and retraining situations. To do this well requires an in-depth approach, for both the horses in our care and the young interns learning from them. To provide this level of care, LOPE can only take in a few horses at a time within our current budget.
By our standards, it seems logical that we would thus reach out to horses who need that type of care the most — and who therefore would be less attractive to larger adoption groups (which take in horses who can be adopted within a reasonably short timeframe).
Many would question whether our work makes much of a difference. We are low volume in every respect. But our viewpoint has been that there is a real gap in the charity world for this kind of work. And that LOPE does make a big difference to each horse who comes here. In turn, these odd, challenging horses make a huge difference to us — by what they teach our interns and inspire us to become. Not only through their assorted rehab and retraining issues, but also through their characters — their unique (and often downright quirky) personalities and individual natures.
It takes time to help these horses and to learn from them. That’s the bottom-line. And not many charities can give that time on a mass scale and still maintain high adoption rates. LOPE genuinely enjoys this work and has steadily evolved into focusing on it pretty much exclusively.
The best way to illustrate this is to share the story of one such horse here.
About a year ago, we took in a horse who turned out to be our most challenging case ever (which is saying quite a lot). LP’s Tiger had an incredible racing career. A petite, elegant mare, she ran 141 times and retired sound at age 10. CANTER PA helped transition her from the track — and she then came to MidAtlantic Horse Rescue to be let down and restarted under saddle at their facility in MD.
LOPE had just started a Racing Warrior Program and we had a slot open to bring in one more warhorse. MidAtlantic contacted us about LP’s Tiger to see if she would qualify. We were delighted to have her join the other racing warriors here — and soon LP’s Tiger was on her way to LOPE.