A Good Year for Horses

In January 2016, WaterShed Animal Fund—a private family foundation in Oklahoma City, Okla., that funds innovative programs to improve the lives of companion animals and homeless horses—awarded a $442,500 grant to the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center. The objective of the grant is to increase adoptions of horses in Colorado and assist in more positive outcomes for horses in transition. Specifically, the WaterShed grant challenges us to complete 200 adoptions or outbound transfers from the Harmony Equine Center each year for a two-year period.

In the first year of the program—March 1, 2016, through Feb. 28, 2017—193 horses entered the Harmony Equine Center training program through the WaterShed grant, and 106 additional horses came to the center for care after being removed from their owners by law-enforcement authorities. A total of 239 horses were adopted or transferred out during the year, and we recorded a live release rate of 95.8 percent, the highest ever for the center.

To achieve this goal, we worked with 12 Colorado horse rescues and two out-of-state humane societies to transfer in horses that needed professional training in order to enhance their chances for adoption. The average length of stay in the program was 60 days, during which time they worked with our team of professional horse trainers, all of whom are well versed in gentle, natural horsemanship techniques.

One of the participating rescues is Drifter’s Hearts of Hope in Franktown, Colo. President Jacqui Avis, who has sent nine horses to Harmony for training, says, “The WaterShed program and Harmony Equine Center have been a HUGE blessing to us. We are a young rescue and not well funded, so the program has given us the chance to get some of these rescued horses (all of which were slaughter bound) started under saddle and made into useful riding horses, thus ensuring them a safe and bright future. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the program, as well as humbled by the generosity of the sponsor. We’re looking forward to a bright future for many more horses!”

Teri Allen of Terolyn Horse Rescue in Elizabeth, Colo., has also been delighted with the training that nine of her horses have received at Harmony. “The staff and trainers at Harmony are fantastic!” says Allen. “They have helped us by providing the training and other resources necessary to get our rescued horses adopted. Training is the key to a successful adoption, but we don’t always have the time or funds to provide that at our facility. This program has been invaluable to us in giving our rescued horses a second chance at a happy life in their new homes so we are free to take on more horses in need.”

Says Harmony Equine Center Director Garret Leonard, “Any time you bring in so many horses in such a short period of time, it’s a challenge because you’re dealing with different types, all of different ages and all with different personalities. It’s a testament to our training program and our amazing training team that we’ve had so many positive outcomes from these horses that stood little chance of being adopted before coming to Harmony. The program has been a great success so far, and we look forward to continuing it this year.”