A Second Wind with Twister

April 21, 2021

Twister resting her head on John's shoulder

John, a lifelong horse lover, had rescued and fostered several dogs, but when his children grew up and left for college, it was finally time for him to return to horses. When the time came to look for a horse, he knew he wanted to adopt one. His search for an adoption organization led him to one of the ASPCA Right Horse Partners, the Harmony Equine Center, in Franktown, Colorado.

Finding the #RightHorse  

When John first stepped out of the truck at Harmony Equine Center, he had his future horse in mind. With his horses in his past, John had ridden a Western-style discipline called “reining.” American Quarter Horses, a breed renowned for their versatility and athleticism, excel in reining, so John hoped he’d find a horse like the ones he used to ride.

He was surprised at first when Harmony Equine Center’s head trainer steered him toward a big, Quarter Horse-type mare named Twister, lying on her side sunbathing in a big pasture. John trusted the trainer’s experience in matching horses and riders and officially adopted Twister.

Training Twister 

After bringing Twister home, John quickly realized that Harmony Equine Center’s trainer was correct—she was a perfect fit for his skill level and goals! 
“I've had Twister for a couple of years now. She's a wonderful horse,” enthuses John. “She has lots of personality, very strong, very smart, very willing.”  

Since bringing her home, John has worked diligently to build their bond and relationship. The pair have explored a variety of Western riding styles. Together, they’ve run barrels—an exciting sport that tests horse and rider speed around barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. They’ve also sorted cattle and have begun training the intricate movements in a discipline called Horsemanship.  

Twister now has an impressive resumé and is very well trained, but it wasn’t always easy. 

“I don’t have a trainer and don’t have a place to ride indoors in the winter, but I was determined to show off what she could do,” explains John. “We learned how to side pass on the ground in the barn using one leg aid and her lead rope. We learned how to open a gate in the dark for 15 minutes a night because it was too cold. She walked over tarps for treats and in general we did everything we could to improve.” He and Twister’s hard work would soon pay off with the invitation to compete at a unique event.

Battle on the Rockies

Twister and John on an obstacle course

Each spring, thousands of visitors flock to Denver for the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Over the span of several days, several competitions take place alongside a booming tradeshow and packed roster of equine demonstrations and clinics. 

In 2019, a group of Colorado-based equine welfare organizations organized “The Battle on the Rockies”; a competition celebrating, and exclusively for, adopted and adoptable horses. Eight rescues from around the state traveled to Denver with their adopters and competed in front of a packed audience over the span of two days.

“I felt like we were riding into the National Finals when we rode into that arena. We were both a bit too excited, but she held it together and we had a super time and we placed,” remembers John about their competitive debut. “Most of the other competitors were just like me and everyone was sharing stories about their rescues. It was the right vibe—a bunch of people who love horses all in the same place having fun.” 

The event was a powerful step forward in making equine adoption more visible. Hundreds of spectators learned about adoption and cheered on the competing horses and riders. 

Good People for Good Horses 

There’s a saying among equestrians that “every horse deserves to be loved by a little boy or a little girl at least once in their life.” This saying generally speaks to the love that children have for horses. Twister gets that love daily in her home, and John’s daughter frequently tells her dad an updated version of the saying that goes: “Every horse deserves an eight-year-old girl to love them, and you’re Twister’s version of an eight-year-old girl.” John’s proud to repeat the sentiment, recognizing that he’s the right person for his beloved right horse Twister. 

Feeling inspired and ready to adopt a horse of your own? Visit myrighthorse.org to browse hundreds of adoptable horses nationwide by breed, gender or discipline.