Like many animals, sometimes Arabian horses find themselves in unexpected situations. Thankfully there are a number of rescue organizations within the community working to help Arabian horses and owners in need. One such rescue is Love This Horse Equine Rescue, out of Acton, Calif. Vera V-Abdallah, LTH’s founder, grew up as the daughter of an Arabian horse trainer and lived in Europe, Africa and the Middle East before permanently moving to the United States.
“We view ‘Love this Horse, Equine Rescue’ (LTH) as an ambassador for the Arabian horse in the horse community at large and as an integral part of the Arabian horse community,” Vera says. “We are focused on providing a safety net for Arabian horses that find themselves in transition and in need of a ‘soft place to land.’ We have several programs. Our main one is to rehabilitate, train/retrain our Arabian horses under saddle, and to find them permanent adoptive homes.”
Like the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), LTH is a Right Horse Initiative partner. The initiative is self-described as “a collective of equine industry and welfare professionals and advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition.” Their main goal is to “massively increase horse adoption in the United States.”
“In 2018, we became a ‘Right Horse Initiative’ (RH) partner because we share their vision to improve the lives of horses in transition and to increase the number of horses adopted,” Vera explains. “In 2017, we took in 66 horses and adopted 36 horses into permanent homes. In 2018, we received a generous grant through the RH and were able to take in 110 horses, train and adopt out 82 horses into permanent homes.”
“About half of our adopters are first-time Arabian horse owners who are looking for a reliable riding partner and were introduced to their horses through our program. Thus, we view ourselves as ambassadors to our beloved breed. Our adopters have come from California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Georgia, Iowa and as far away as Canada. Our adoption program gives the adopter a 30-day trial period with her new horse and a full adoption fee refund option. Plus, we ask for any of our adopted horses to be returned at any time if the adopters find themselves in a situation where they cannot keep their horses.”
LTH strongly focuses on under saddle training and subsequent adoptions into permanent homes so that they are able to take in the next horse. “Depending on the horses’ talents after they have completed their basic training, we also take them to compete in schooling shows, Hunter-Jumper shows and also compete with them in Endurance rides,” Vera shares. “This gives the horses exposure and showcases how versatile Arabian horses truly are. We have met several adopters at these competitions, and our horses have successful show records.”
In addition to Vera, Isaisas Ocegueda works as the rescue’s main trainer. Together, Vera and Isaias have been training and mentoring three additional riders so the organization essentially has a team of five trainers, drastically increasing its capacity. “We also provide free riding lessons to our volunteers, reduced cost riding lessons to potential adopters, and provide free riding lessons to children of inner-city or impoverished backgrounds. In turn, several of the children in our riding program get to compete on our ready-for-adoption horses at the horse shows and in the endurance rides. Recently, we were awarded a grant from the Right Horse to help with the expenses of these programs and to increase adoptions.”
Another of LTH’s programs serves to assist Arabian horse owners with rehoming their horses responsibly. Vera explains, “In 2018, we assisted 29 horse owners in finding new homes for their horses. This way, these horses are able to move straight into the new home. Also, we work with several Arabian horse breeders who have found new homes for horses that do not meet their program criteria.” In addition to helping Arabian horses find their next homes, LTH also acts as a safe haven for others. “We provide 20 Arabian horses with sanctuary. These horses are either over 25 years old, with our oldest resident aged 43, or may have suffered trauma and need time to relax and overcome their past before entering our training program,” Vera says. “We also provide temporary foster care or temporary feeding or boarding funds for distressed Arabian horse owners. For temporary foster care, the horses stay with LTH for a few months and then are returned to their owners, once the owner’s situation is stabilized. For temporary feeding or boarding care, we cover the costs for the owners in distress until the owner can take over again. This way, the distressed owners do not have to lose their beloved Arabian horses.”
LTH is an example of responsible rescue. Through their structured programs and Vera’s careful management, they serve Arabian horses and owners in many capacities, from all walks of life. “Our resident horses have come to us through owner relinquishments, from law enforcement seizures, animal control and low-end horse auctions,” Vera shares. “Most owner relinquished horses have come from owners who are not able to care for their horses anymore, because of the owners’ age, illness or a permanent financial crisis. If at all possible, we want to avoid horses ending up at auction, where they face many dangers and an uncertain future.”
“We have a very active Facebook page where we chronicle the journey of our horses as they go through rehabilitation and training through photos and videos. Often, we find that adopters become interested in a particular horse as they follow that horse’s journey. Once horses are trained and ready for adoption, we create an adoption profile on the My Right Horse website. As part of the adoption process, potential adopters are invited to come meet and ride the horses to find the one they connect with.”
“Many of our Arabian horses come with their pedigree papers because owners provide those with the horse at time of relinquishment or because we have been able to identifying the horses through the AHA DNA testing program, and reunite them with their papers. In the case of a recent law enforcement seizure, where we took in 22 Arabian and half-Arabian horses, we closely worked with the AHA in order to reunite the horses with their respective pedigree papers.”
Though much has been achieved, Vera and LTH have more goals to meet in order to continue to help Arabian horses and the community as a whole. “In the future, we would like to expand our programs to provide educational tools for Arabian horse owners to understand the importance, and legal process, of securing the future of their horses,” Vera shares. “This applies to horse owners of all ages. Many Arabian horses that end up at auction have come from situations where the owner has passed, and could be avoided by creating a living trust, a will and a life insurance policy, or another financial arrangement for the benefit of the horses.”
To continue their important work in helping Arabian horses in transition and offering services to the Arabian horse community, Vera and the LTH team rely on volunteers and generous donors to support their efforts. “On average, horses that we train and adopt out, stay with us for six months,” Vera explains. “The training fees are paid through our adoption fees, but we have to engage in continuous fundraising efforts to cover the feeding, farrier and vet bills. Because we have approximately 45 to 50 horses at LTH at any one time, we have a large monthly feed bill of $5,000. Southern California is a desert climate, and we do not have the luxury of pasture grazing, plus hay costs up to $18 per 120-pound bale. All horses are fed hay twice per day, in addition to soaked hay pellets and senior grain that is fed to our senior sanctuary horses. Often, even with owner relinquishments, the horses come in skinny and in need of vet and farrier care, in addition to supplemental feedings to reach a healthy weight.”
“We are working on expanding our monthly donor base and to find a few corporate sponsors. The funds raised through our monthly donor club and birthday fundraisers created by some of our followers on Facebook go straight to our monthly feed bill. More sponsors would allow us to fully concentrate our efforts on rehabilitation and training.”
For more information on Love This Horse, Equine Rescue, or to support their efforts, please visit them online at the addresses below. Be sure to follow LTH on FB to keep up with the latest as they continue to advocate for Arabian horses in transition.