Monday, February 23, 2009


The Re-Re-Homing of Rosie!

A preface from Sandy: This is a very special story. Very special, of course, because it is the story of a re-homing of a very, very special little mare.  A mare from the backwoods of Iron County, WI.  A mare who had sustained neglect and borderline abandonment. A mare who came to THE FARM so emaciated that my hand could be placed -horizontally - between her flanks when she arrived. A mare who stole my heart from the very first meeting.

But this re-homing was very special for another reason. This re-homing was completed totally and completely by Gloria W. with the support of Tracy O. That, as many of you know, is something that just hasn't happened in the past. To absorb an animal at THE FARM and then allow her to be loaded, re-homed, and delivered without my very own eyes to see that she is safe at her new home was unheard of!

But it happened. And it happened with this very special little mare and two very special members of The 'Other' Herd.A big step in the story and growth of Refuge Farms. A big step for the Adoption process here at THE FARM. And a big step for little Rosie.

So read on for impressions of this adventure by the two trusted women who did what it took - who found and evaluated her adoptive owners, who then loaded, transported, and delivered Rosie to those owners. Thank you, Gloria and Tracy.  Thank you from me and of course, from Rosie!

Impressions from Tracy O.: We met a couple months ago as a committee at THE FARM.  Gloria had done a bunch of work already, seeing what other rescues do in their adoption process (‘benchmarking,’ as they say in the corporate world), and we wrangled with the need to know enough about people to make a good match, while not wanting to put them through a wringer, or requiring a ton of material we would then have to find time to read. 

What questions would tell us the most about their experience with horses, the appropriateness of their facility, their willingness to stand by the horse in sickness and in health?  We pounded out a draft application, Gloria polished it up, and Sandy divided up a stack of inquiries from potential horse adopters and horse owners with animals they could not keep, for us to interview.

My list got narrowed down real fast – some only provided an email address, and we never heard back from my contact effort.  Was my message in their spam file, never to be found?  Had they re-thought their interest and opted out?  One phone was disconnected; another couple had purchased horses and was no longer up for adoption.  All this in just a couple weeks. 

One grandmother had suggested her daughter’s family as adopters but the daughter was clearly not invested in the idea.  “She overstepped her bounds,” the grown daughter said firmly of her mom about five times in as many minutes.  Others had very specific needs – small, quiet, gentle, a horse we’d already met and could vouch for.  The daunting list of horse owners with animals to surrender was also whittled down – one man had already found a home for his two older geldings and was happy for the good match and appreciative for our follow-up.  SCORE! 

A woman with a show horse with mobility issues wanted a retirement home since she couldn’t afford a heated box stall at the trainer’s and couldn’t find another setting.  Euthanasia was the alternative if we couldn’t find a home in two weeks.  We talked by phone, she was happy we thought we could help.  Could we get access to the vet’s records, since she’d spent thousands of dollars trying to get the horse diagnosed?  Sure. 

Could we have a photo to put out to potential adopters?  Sure.We got the photo by email the next day, but then silence - phone calls were not answered, messages not returned, emails bounced back saying that she was on vacation, then stopped bouncing back, indicating she was back on the job.  Weeks went by and no word.  What had happened to this 12 year old quarter horse?  We don’t know.

I found a match meanwhile, with a couple willing to take on three, unhandled adult horses from the Trempealeau Rescue, whose first adoptive owner had lost his job and needed to re-home them.  As I write this, we've just completed making the pick-up and delivery, and the woman and her family are palpably thrilled. 

Meanwhile, Gloria W. found a match with a couple willing to adopt Rosie, a mare from the Iron County Rescue, who similarly had been adopted but needed to be re-homed because of job loss in the original adoption.

Impressions from Gloria W.: I just had a feeling,  call it a sixth sense, that this woman who I was talking to for the first time would provide a wonderful home to a needy horse.  She and her husband had seen the KARE-11 TV news piece about Refuge Farms.  They had one empty stall in their barn and sent an e-mail to Sandy expressing interest in adoption.  Sandy asked me to contact this woman, I did, and it was a very positive experience.

I sent our new adoption application form to her via e-mail and it was returned the same day along with pictures of the stable. I forwarded the completed application and pictures to Tracy and Sandy and we all agreed this sounded and looked like a great home.  This couple has five other horses, including a 37 year old gelding, which said something to me about the care the horses are given.  They also have cats and dogs; they adopt greyhounds. 

The applicant said a mare would work best in their quiet herd, and 26-year-old Rosie came to mind.  It turned out there was one little glitch to iron out first.  Sandy thought Rosie might be pregnant, having run with a stud colt in the home from which she was rescued, and based on her weight gain in the home of her initial adopter, so we needed to wait for the vet to come check her out.  Good news - she wasn’t. 

The prospective new family wanted to come to Refuge Farms to see Rosie before they committed to adopting her, but because of schedules and frigid temperatures, that didn’t work out and we were told we could just go ahead and bring her to them.  

So, on the Saturday of The State of THE FARM meeting, I hooked up my trailer and headed to Spring Valley.  After the meeting and lunch, Tracy and I loaded up Rosie and left for Rosie's new home.  It was a beautiful day and we had a fine trip.  We found the home and stable and met the husband and wife who were every bit as wonderful as I thought they would be. 

We unloaded Rosie and she walked into the corral with them, was turned loose, and laid down and rolled (as every good horse does after riding a ways in a trailer).  Tracy and I stayed and visited for a while, took some pictures and then hugged and said our goodbyes.  As we left, Rosie was contentedly eating hay while the rest of the herd stared at her over the fence wondering who the heck she was!

I felt completely satisfied, as we left, that we had made a very good match and that Rosie will now have the forever home that she so deserves.

An additional note from Gloria: A little over a week after having Rosie, the new owner says, “We’ve nicknamed Rosie ‘Scarlet’ – we have a family member by the name of Rosie and it was getting confusing!  So she’s ‘Scarlet Rose’ – she’s doing great.  She’s so gentle.  She’s totally settled in – she knows her stall, looks forward to her bedtime treat and gets along with everyone.  She’s not afraid to nudge her way into the lean-to when she wants to.  We’ve been brushing her once a week and she stands very patiently for it.  I can’t describe how ‘anti-climatic’ it is having her – she fits in great with everyone and we love having her.  Please tell Sandy that one of her babies is in great hands – ready for a visit at any time.”

We do plan to visit when the weather warms up to see how everyone is doing!

And finally, an email was just received today with another update on Scarlet:

"Hi Gloria! Just wanted to give you a Scarlet update - she got her new winter blanket this weekend and she looks adorable (of course now the weather is warming up!). Everyone who visits our farms thinks she's so cute. She's taken to my Thoroughbred and they hang out together. She was wormed on Saturday and we had no issues. We love having her!"

A final note from Sandy: The picture of Tracy up above is her riding her beloved Blaze out in California in the early 90's. And the picture of Gloria is a recent picture with her beloved Appaloosa gelding, Reno. Thanks, ladies! Job well done!

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