As the President of Segunda Vida Equine Rescue, I would like to share my personal journey with you....
For as long as I can remember, I've loved horses. I was put on my first horse around the age of three and after that did nothing but bug my parents to take me on every available pony ride at every fair, and as soon as I was old enough (which was 7-years old) I was taking lessons.
The farm I rode at was close to my hometown (Pefferlaw, ON) the farm was owned by my friends parents. It was then that I learned the basics and started with the Western discipline of riding. I rode Western for a time and got used to the comfort and security that comes with riding that discipline. It wasnt long before I was wanting to try a more challenging way of riding and decided to give the English discipline a try. It was then that I discovered the hunter/jumper and dressage way and quickly decided that was my calling.
When I was about 12 years old, I woke up one morning to see a pony tied to the flagpole at the Post Office across the street from my house. I remember thinking that someone had heard my prayers to have my own horse, (seeing him tied there had me believing that he was there for me). I quickly ran across the road and began feeding him treats; carrots and apples and I even remember carrying him a bucket of fresh water.
The local police were called and the owners were eventually found and it was discovered that the pony, named STAR, was a stallion and had gotten loose from his paddock and had decided to go for a morning run. He ended up at the Post Office and being in a small town, whomever tied him there, knew he would end up back where he belonged.
When the owners arrived I was there to greet them and introduced myself. It was quickly discovered that their son was a friend of my younger brothers and they lived close by. I spent the next year, every weekend (and weekdays when I could), with Star and taught him everything I knew and rode him everywhere. After approximately a year, the owners let me know that they were moving - to Alberta.....I was devastated. The time I had with Star was coming to an end and it broke my heart to know he would be so far away. One afternoon, when I went over to ride, the owners approached me and asked me if I would like to keep Star, for my own, as they were unable to take him on their move......I was the happiest I had ever been and of course said, YES !!...They had already cleared it with my parents. My dad built me a stall in our garage and the garage was right outside the back door of my family home....I got to see him every morning, I was in heaven.
I rode him everywhere while my friends rode their bikes--Star and I went places that no bike ride could ever take anyone.....but by the time I was 14, I had outgrown him and it was time to move on. He went to a very loving family with four children who were friends of my fathers, it was there he lived out his retirement and was very well cared for. Star taught me alot about owning a horse and the responsibilities involved.
After having to give away my pony, I decided to get back into lessons. I rode as much as I could for awhile but then took a break during my high school years, but I was always following what was going on in the horse industry.
In 1990, my first horse purchase was a Palomino mare named Katie who, for the year I owned her, worked hard with me to accomplish our goals together and brought home over 36 ribbons in one show season. I loved her dearly but I knew I was wanting to go farther then she was willing to take me and I sold her to a younger teenage girl who went on to do many shows with her and enjoyed her immensely.
Following the sale of my Palomino, I purchased my first Thoroughbred, a mare, named Rosys Ready and my love and passion for Thoroughbreds began. With lots of riding and dedication, I made a point of getting to where I wanted to be with my riding levels and started working towards my Level 1 coaching by immersing myself in my learning and riding of the Dressage discipline and having a wonderful mentor, Mary DeWolfe as my coach.
Over the next few years, I would be taking a brief hiatus from horses to raise my family. It was hard to pull away from the equine world as it had been my life for so long but starting my family was very important to me. Although not as immersed as I was in previous years, I always kept myself well informed and in touch with the equine world at every opportunity and used the internet and my contacts to facilitate that.
Once my third child was old enough, I went back to work part time and jumped right back into the equine industry by working at a local large riding facility. It wasn't long before I was re-establishing contacts and attempting to work towards having my own facility where I could offer riding and training and boarding.
In early 2003, I rescued my first horse - a Thoroughbred/QH Paint cross chestnut colt who was so weak and emaciated that he was unable to stand. You could visibly count every single bone from his poll to the dock of his tail....He had been severely starved to the point where he physically had no muscle to sustain his frame.....but he was a fighter.
Although a very long and arduous task and painstakingly slow, he improved one day at a time, he gained much needed weight and put on solid muscle. A very special diet of the very best hay and the best grain with vitamins and minerals, his salt and mineral blocks and supplements to aid in his development of muscle, finally gave way to a young colt that stood proud and felt good.
He was so weak in the beginning that he couldn't even whinny when he saw me. I knew he wanted to let me know he saw me and appreciated what I was doing for him, but simply didnt have the strength.
Then one day, as I was backing my vehicle into my parking spot I heard him whinny at me, it brought tears to my eyes, not only did he recognize me and the fact that I was home, but he had the strength to make a very happy and recognizably loud whinny to let me know he noticed me!! Although he should have grown to approximately 16hh, due to the starvation he endured so young it stunted his growth and he only grew to a very lean 14.3hh and remained there.
It was at that point that I realized rescuing these beautiful creatures was something I was meant to do. Watching the progress of what he was when he came to me and then as he grew into a healthy young colt made me very happy and proud.
I opened my riding/training/boarding facility in the fall of 2003. We had a barn full of race horses as well as pleasure riding and a lesson and part boarding program. A number of younger rescued horses had also made their way to me at this time and were doing well and working towards beginning their new chapters in their life.
Although always and forever having a special love for Thoroughbreds, Segunda Vida Equine Rescue is dedicated to assisting any and all equines in need of assistance, rescue and/or rehabilitation.
I have gone through the years and rescued many more - ranging from a Thoroughbred stallion, to yearling colts from a feedlot, to yearling Belgian fillies to the Thoroughbred mares headed to slaughter because the previous owner just got sick of having to feed and look after them.....
I've seen far too many sad situations and horses in dire need of assistance and have done everything I can to help bring them to a better way of life and then adopt them out to people who appreciate and love their horses,
Many horses have found their second life at Segunda Vida Equine Rescue and although they may have once been headed for a terrible end, they have ended up in caring and knowledgeable hands of someone who knows all too well of the importance of proper care, shelter, feed and most importantly patience and love and the positive life altering changes that it can lead to.
They are beautiful and sensitive animals -- companions, partners and beautiful athletes who deserve to be treated with dignity and kindness as that is what they are taught to give us, it is only fair that we offer them the same in return.
R. I. P.
Mr KAMARAN aka "KAM"
Thoroughbred/Paint QH x colt (gelding)
SPRING 2003 - JUNE 1-2012
First rescue from 2003 - 9 years old
UPDATE: We lost KAM very unexpectedly on Friday June 1-2012 from cancer...
He made his trip over the Rainbow Bridge and is now happily galloping with all of his equine friends.
Mom loves you "baby boy" and misses you now and always
Having KAM come into my life and all the hurdles we overcame together while he was with me, has allowed me to find the strength and courage and the reason behind why SEGUNDA VIDA EQUINE RESCUE came to be and we will continue to do whatever we can to assist as many horses as possible and provide them with love, safety and a better quality of life.
I had the wonderful opportunity to grow up around horses and from an early age was taught many valuable life lessons by my equine partners. I had been raised riding English and had gone through my fair share of questionable coaches. Each bringing me closer to the epiphany that maybe, there was a better way to work with these animals where you didn't have a war each time. Enter Natural Horsemanship and a wonderful group of people who taught me to communicate with a horse and have a partner for life, as opposed to a slave.
Then one day as if by fate, I was introduced to Katherine Butler and her rescue organization. I was given the chance to finally give back to these majestic animals and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this exciting endeavor. Fast forward a few months and I am now a partner in the rescue, coming face to face with cases of abuse and neglect, and doing my part to bring happiness and comfort to these horses one at a time.