Beth + Una
Breed American Paint Horse
We had been volunteering with West Virginia Horse Network for around a year when Una came into the rescue. The rescue had gotten a call about 3 horses in very poor condition in a nearby county. Board members of the rescue went to assess the situation with local law enforcement and humane officers as this was a seizure case. When they went to this location there were 3 horses. One buckskin mustang, one paint and one black horse. All in very poor condition with no food or drinking water. By the time the rescue went to pick up the horses, the black horse had passed away. It was a sad day because we were unable to get to this poor horse in time to help it. But there were two others that still needed help. They were loaded and taken to a safe facility.
Una was transferred to a foster home where she was able to be turned out as she was rehabilitated. We never met her because the foster home was a bit of a distance from us and we were busy with the rescue horses in the main barn where we volunteered. We saw pictures and updates of her through the rescue page, but never thought of actually owning her. My daughter had a bay and white pony at the time, and they looked very similar. My daughter was 5 at the time and every time we would see Una she would say she looked like Dash Pony. She didn’t pay much attention either. We loved watching her put on weight and become healthy, but she was not an active part of our lives at this time since we had never met her.
In May of 2016 some new horses had came into the rescue and it was necessary to reassess foster homes and move some horses around. At this time it was decided a different horse would be going to foster where Una was, and Una would come to the main rescue barn. When Una arrived all the kids were excited to have a new horse to work with. The older kids in the Barn Buddies program spent days working with her, grooming her, doing desensitizing work with her and hours of groundwork. Finally, it was decided Una was calm enough and safe enough for my daughter to work with. This is where I share their story, as the story of our rescue horse is not really about me, but about Una and my daughter.
The first time Cariana got Una out of her stall it was obvious they had an instant connection. Una was instantly fascinated with Cariana. Being 5, Cariana was lively, wild, loud and a little hyper. There were other horses in the barn that were not a fan of her spirit, but not Una. Una loved it. Una would hear her walk in the barn and would instantly look for her. Una seemed to instantly trust Cariana. Cariana could do anything with her. Groom her, groundwork, clean her feet, tack her up, ride her, take her through obstacles, do desensitizing exercises with her, bathe her; pretty much anything she wanted to do, Una was up for it. Cariana would often lead Una around and free lunge her in the round pen. After time, Cariana would just hang out in the round pen with Una playing around and Una would stay right with her. Una would follow her anywhere without a lead rope. If Cariana would stop, Una would stop. If Cariana would walk, Una would walk beside her. If Cariana would run, Una trotted beside her. No lead rope was needed. Una just wanted to be with Cariana. You could see how much she loved her by the look in her eyes. Cariana loved Una just as much.
I hadn’t planned on adopting another horse, but the connection between Cariana and Una was undeniable. Everyone could see it whenever the two were together. After much consideration I applied to adopt Una. When our application was approved, Nicky, the president of West Virginia Horse Network, told Cariana the news. Cariana cried because she was so happy.
Shortly after, Cariana decided she wanted to take Una to a local horse show. We loaded her up and took her to the show. We had no idea how she would do, if she had ever been to a show, or if she had ever even had any type of training at all. My daughter had never been to a horse show that required her to be off a lead line. They went into the ring and Una was an angel. They got second place and I was so proud of them both. The following summer Cariana continued to take Una to the local show. They got lots of second place ribbons but Cariana never got discouraged. She loved Una and Una loved her. They took care of each other and had fun. It soon became possible for Cariana to move Una to the barn where she takes riding lessons. Cariana was so excited to be able to ride her own horse for lessons.
Shortly after, Cariana experienced a bad fall at horse camp off of a different horse at camp and became unsure about riding. She was very nervous and lost her confidence. She got on Una, but her trainer had to put them back on the lead line. Cariana was terrified of falling off and getting hurt again. There were times after this fall I wondered if Cariana would ever trust horses to not throw her off, including Una. However, Una showed Cariana just how much she loved her time and time again. Every week we continued to go to the barn. Cariana would get on Una and have riding lessons and Una would prove time and time again that she would never hurt her. After time, Cariana began to trust Una. She gained her confidence back. She is no longer afraid. Una has shown her she can fully trust her and Una trusts Cariana just as much. They make a great team.
At the beginning of this show season, they took 3 first places at the first show.
But beyond the ribbons, Una is beyond willing to do anything Cariana asks of her. She wears the silly costumes, she goes through the crazy obstacles, she lets Cariana dress her up for every holiday and put birthday hats on to celebrate Una’s birthday.
My daughter broke her ankle and didn’t want to miss her horse show. She didn’t ride the best that day and her attitude was a little off but Una took care of her and just knew what she needed to do. The two of them are connected on an emotional level that people sometimes struggle to reach even with other humans. In 2017, we lost a 5-month-old foal. The foal was born in rescue, her mother had been severely starved before they were able to help her. The foal had not developed properly and became very sick. My daughter and the foal were very attached to one another. It was a very tragic event and Cariana was devastated. Again, Una helped her through it all. Cariana would go to the barn and just spend hours grooming Una and walking her around. She would play with her and dress her up. Una helped her heal. She gave her something to love. Somewhere to go for comfort. She just made her feel better because they loved each other so much.
The love they share for one another is so special it’s hard to put it into words without seeing it. I love how Una’s eyes light up when she hears Cariana’s voice. Una still follows Cariana everywhere she goes. Even without a lead rope. It is a beautiful thing to see the love these two have for each other, but it is even more special to me that Una is able to love and trust Cariana after the extent to which humans had failed her in the past. I could not have asked for a better horse for my daughter. She didn’t have professional training, she didn’t cost me thousands of dollars, but she is worth all the money in the world and then some to both me and my daughter. I believe, with all my heart, Una was brought into our lives for Cariana. She has helped her through so much. Una was always meant to be Cariana’s horse. I just wish we had found her before she had to go through so many horrible things.
What #RightHorse means to me
It means people have a place to go to find the perfect horse for them. I truly believe there is a right horse for everyone. When you find the horse you just know. You meet them and there is just a connection and you know. The Right Horse allows this to be a possibility. It provides information and options for people to look and find their right horse. It allows a place for people to see numerous rescue horses so they can find the perfect horse for them and adopt the horse from a rescue rather than purchasing one. I think it gives rescue horses a better chance at finding a home because it makes it easier for people to access information about them.