Sometimes things work out in ways you just can’t imagine. One little domino falls and starts a chain reaction that, in the end, leaves you shaking your head and wondering, “How on Earth did we get here from there?” The story of a “beat down” rescue horse who ultimately beat the odds is one such tale.
A Horse Rescue Without a Rescue Horse
In August of 2011, Hidden K Stables Rescue & Rehab (HKS R&R) in Pfafftown was a horse rescue organization without a rescue horse. Having only officially been in the rescue business for a little more than a month, its members were still raising money while scouting out potential prospects for the program. “We were planning fundraisers because, obviously, you need money to take care of, feed and train a horse,” said Board of Directors President Dawn Longman. “We figured it might take several months to get a respectable sum of money in the bank.” The problem was that the young, bay-colored horse in Pennsylvania didn’t have a few months – or even a few weeks.
“If you don’t pick him up on Monday, he’s going to slaughter.”
By the time HKS R&R members spotted this particular horse on a Friday, he only had two days left. After much debate (there was the fact of the puny bank account) and an emergency vote, the Board was persuaded by the Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” theory, and that Sunday, the horse was loaded up and hauled to North Carolina. He arrived 400 pounds underweight, with a respiratory infection and cracked hooves. He was exhausted, listless and hungry. As the members led him off the trailer, they knew they had their work cut out for them.
Making a Name and Finding His Place
Much to their relief, the donations did come in and it wasn’t long before the pitiful horse, dubbed Ace in the Hole, or “Ace” for short, was making a name for himself in the local newspaper and on local television. The drab looking bag of bones had turned himself around and was strong, healthy and winning blue ribbons at local horse shows. Kellie Younger, one of his primary trainers, was amazed at how quickly Ace transformed himself. “It was like he knew this was his second chance, and he was going for it,” said Younger. When local high school junior Erin O’Rourke began riding him, they forged a substantial bond and made a dynamic team. “Our decision to buy Ace was a tough one because we swore we would never buy another horse,” said Sue O’Rourke, Erin’s mother. “But after spending so much time training and working with Ace, Erin fell in love with him. It’s easy to do because he is such a sweet and willing horse, even after all he has been through.”
Fast-forward to July of 2014. It’s the U.S. Pony Club National Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. There are no sickly, starving horses here – just strong, shiny athletes competing against teams from around the nation. With more than 1,000 horses and riders in the event, these championships are a long way from a slaughter pen. During the three day event, Erin and Ace jumped fences with heart, guts and determination, helping to lead their Carolina team to fifth place in the nation for show jumping. “They put in the time and the work together and did a fantastic job,” said Michelle Hargreaves, Erin’s trainer and the executive director of HKS R&R. “I couldn’t be more proud of either of them!”
While the road Ace traveled was a long one, he had courage, spirit and friends on his side; and that’s a mighty strong hand for beating the odds.
Hearts for Horses!
Join HKS R&R at their annual Hearts for Horses fundraising event on October 4, 2014, at Cellar 4201 Vineyard in East Bend, NC.
- Delicious chicken or pork BBQ from Oscar’s Grille
- Fun music by Nic Croucher
- Silent auction with many wonderful items
Tickets are $25/person for regular or $30/person for VIP (includes 1 glass of wine).
Go to www.hiddenkhorserescue.org for more information and to order tickets!