According to their website, “Love This Horse, Equine Rescue Inc. (LTH) is a horse rescue specializing in taking in forgotten, neglected and abused Arabian horses from law enforcement seizures, local animal shelters, distressed owners, and from low-end horse auctions.
They bring the horses into a safe and nurturing environment where they are brought back to health, gentled and loved. When the horses are strong enough, they are evaluated by Director Vera V-Abdallah and trainer Isaias Ocegueda and, if possible, started or restarted for a new life as a riding horse.
LTH believes that every horse deserves a job and permanent adoptive home. Some of their horses become great trail, endurance riding, hunter/jumper, dressage or lesson horses. Others are destined to become therapy horses, helping kids and adults healing from their own deep wounds. LTH works hard to take care of these horses, all the while knowing that the horses are secretly taking care of them.”
Critical to the operation of the rescue, currently home to 63 horses, are volunteers, and one special subset of LTH’s volunteers are youths. “I think that because I have two young daughters who are involved with the horses, it has been a welcoming environment for our young volunteers,” Vera, explains. “Volunteers are essential to make our rescue work simply because of our limited resources. However, volunteers also showcase how well our horses ride and how personable they are. We reward our regular volunteers with free riding lessons, and we also focus on teaching horse care. Many of our volunteers and parents come to learn more about horses, and often they are thinking about owning a horse eventually. Being around horses is a positive experience, and the young volunteers love being featured with our horses on social media.”
It is well known that Arabian horses make fantastic mounts and companions for children and families alike. Vera agrees, saying, “Arabians are very sensitive horses and seem to really like children. I have observed it more than once that the horse is very careful with the child.”
In this two-part blog post, we meet some of the young volunteers devoting their time and energy to help Arabian horses in transition find their forever homes or enjoy their days at LTH.
ERNA VALDIVIA, Age 12
My name is Erna Valdivia, and I am 12 years old. My mom is the founder and executive director of Love This Horse, an Arabian rescue. I am in middle school and attend the 7th grade. One of the first horses we rescued after moving to the U.S. in 2010 is my personal horse, "Daisy". Her registered name is PS BASHA LILLY, but we did not find out until we did her DNA test. She was skinny and neglected when we rescued her, but now she is fat and happy.
After we rescued Daisy, my mom and I started her under saddle. My mom taught me what to do, to start a horse under saddle, and I have been riding and helping my mom train ever since. I love Arabian horses because they take care of you. I mean, they bond with you, and they do not let you down. They are there for you! I also own a really special weanling gelding named AJF Silas (he was not a rescue). I am learning how to halter show him. It is a challenge to learn something new, but I am wanting to learn.
My sister and I help my mom feed all the horses twice per day, and we make sure they have water and their stalls are clean. Now, that is not my favorite part, but it has to be done. I earn my horses' upkeep that way, but my favorite part is to ride at endurance rides and to show other people how well our rescue horses can do. I have ridden several horses that are ready for adoption at endurance rides. It makes me sad and happy at the same time when the horses find homes. I love the horses so much.
I really love it when we get updates and find out how well the adopted horses are doing and when the adopters are so happy to have one of our horses. It is sad too because I am like my mom. We always cry when a horse is adopted, and the horse leaves. We miss the horses so much, but we also know that they have good homes now and somebody loves them.
When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian for horses. I want to compete with my own horses and also train horses. I was adopted by my mom, and I know personally how important adoption is and how it creates a family. People create families with their horses too, not just people.
KAITLYNN GILL, Age 13
My name is Kaitlynn Gill, and I am 13 years old. I am in middle school, 8th grade and I have been a riding student of Isaias Ocegueda for the past five years. He is the main trainer for Love This Horse, but he also gives riding lessons.
I started learning to ride on thoroughbreds, but when Isaias started working with Love This Horse (LTH), I got to know Arabian horses. I ended up adopting my own Arabian mare that I fell in love with while I volunteered at the rescue. I love Arabian horses because they are so smart, and they have so much energy!
I met my Arabian mare "Benita" when I started volunteering at Love This Horse. She is not registered, but I do not care. She caught my heart, and I wanted her so badly. Vera and Isaias made it happen, and after I proved that I could and would properly take care of her, they let me adopt her for $1.00. Yes, you heard me! They knew that I would love Benita for ever and ever, and they made it happen. I have owned Benita for two years now, and we have won at hunter/jumper shows, and we also compete at gymkhana. She is absolutely the best horse EVER!
I live with my mom, and we are not wealthy. I ride horse for Love This Horse and compete with them at the hunter jumper shows, but also in endurance rides. We have an arrangement that I earn the show fees to compete on Benita by competing on some of the LTH horses. It is fun and we have sleepovers at the rescue, and I am good friends with some of the other girls who help at LTH. Often, I come on the weekend and stay with Benita. Then on Sunday, Vera drives my horse and me back home. She does that for the shows too, but at the endurance rides, I don't bring Benita.
If I hadn't volunteered, I would not have met my horse Benita. I love her so much, and I want all of the horses to find their forever homes! I can help with that, and it makes me so happy.
In the next post some of LTH’s youngest volunteers share more about their experience with rescue horses and what they are learning through gifting their time to them.
To learn more about Love This Horse Equine rescue, visit them at their website, Facebook or Instagram: lovethishorse_rescue, and stay updated on the progress of their horses and adventures of the volunteers alike.