Written by Mary Strong
All photography provided by Mary Strong
We are a group of individuals brought together by the sheer love of horses. We are trainers, riders, barn owners and family. We are a tight community solely together for the love and pampering of these amazing animals. We built it and they came - an environment for horses and humans to thrive. We felt it was time to help horses in need and as soon as we thought of the concept, they were here! Horses have 2 paths in our program with several phases of care. First: get them healthy and happy. Next: identify their unique abilities. What are they capable of doing? What do they seem to enjoy the most? Trails? Kids? Arena work? Being a companion? Some of the horses we take stay and give lessons to help fund the others that are not yet sound or in training. After a horse is "whole" again, they are either placed into their forever home, or used as beloved lesson horses to fund the program.
Our mission is simple. It is based on our philosophy that when a horse is finished with his or her first career, it does not mean they are finished completely. Often, after big sporting careers, they are injured and need time and TLC that their previous people just could not provide. Often owners bring the horses to us knowing that with us, they will have a wonderful life that enables them to be healthy, happy and useful. We all need purpose. That said, some horses come to us and little is known, so with trial and error we learn about them. We take the time and consult with experts to come up with a systematic individual plan of care, with the goal of getting each horse its second chance! Whether it's as a lesson horse that can bring in an income to help the program, or in finding that perfect forever home, all of our horses are treated as beloved family members and partners.
What We've Achieved: the how and why
A history of how we came to be - an evolution
Sometimes you intend on acquiring a new perfect horse, your "dream" horse. You are excited and fall in love with pictures, video and testimony. You arrange payment and buy the horse from out of state and have him shipped. You are so excited, and then when the animal gets off the rig, you gasp. How could this be the same horse? Well, that is what happened to Mary Strong when she purchased Scout. In the sale advertising, he looked amazing: a golden, muscled-up, jumping palomino. What got off the rig from Georgia was a malnourished, emaciated animal covered in skin fungus. Scout was not meant to be a rescue, but he was. This experience, however, enabled Mary to learn she loved the rehabilitation process, as it allowed her to witness a transformation. First, the vet examined Scout and the treatment began. A bond was created in the TLC that was provided for Scout. Daily baths, ointment applications and antibiotics was the routine for weeks! Scout's favorite part was lots and lots of hay! Scout is now plump with a glistening coat, and lives a happy life as Mary's personal trail horse. He was not meant to be a rescue or a rehabilitation project, but he inspired the entire program!
Shortly after, we were approached by 2 people that needed homes for their retired performance horses. Both had soundness issues, but were fabulous horses that the owners trusted to us to rehabilitate and find their next career. We nursed them back to soundness, and the program was a little closer to being conceived. Next we were given an ex-racehorse who was a solid guy but very lame. At this point Clare and Mary looked at each other and said: let's start a non-profit, because what we are doing is giving horses their second chance. Literally that week the wheels were in motion to become a legitimate program. Standing in a stall with Commander, the ex-racehorse, contemplating his future, and the program was born. It went from a sponsor program to a non-profit with the specific intention of giving horses their second chance. We were already rehabilitating and rehoming, so why not really go for it? Once the decision was made, we went full speed ahead in further defining our goals and business plan. Horses and the care of horses takes money, pure and simple. Why not use the horses that could give lessons to help fund the care of the ones that had not yet found their ideal situation? The income our lesson horses generate by being kind, friendly teachers of horsemanship to students of all kinds makes a huge difference, but our solvency depends on the generosity of people like you!
Some horses are admittedly more challenging than others - Commander's future is yet to be discovered. He came to us very disabled. We are committed to each and every one of our horses, digging into our own pockets and spending a tremendous amount of our own time while trying to help them. With the help of generous donors and volunteers, we found that this could be an even greater program with brighter futures for all of these horses that have captured our hearts.
MARY STRONG OWNER OF STRONG STABLES AND FOUNDER/CFO
JACK STRONG PRESIDENT
PHOEBE HARPER- CO-FOUNDER SECRETARY AND PRIMARY INSTRUCTOR