Training Program Brings Together a Horse and His Rider

August 19, 2021

Man riding horse

Forrest’s passion for journalism made his choice of major clear when he enrolled at Colorado State University (CSU). However, his insatiable love for learning left him with a desire to look beyond his journalism major and discover what else CSU had to offer students.

He remembered the time he spent at his neighbor’s ranch in his hometown in Central Colorado, where he’d started helping with the horses the summer prior. After reconnecting with the ranch owner, he was introduced to CSU’s Equine Sciences Program’s Director of Administration, Adam Daurio.

Adam had just started a new pilot project with The Right Horse Initiative, an equine adoption program that is now a program of the ASPCA, and thought it would be a great fit for Forrest due to his love of horses and desire to strengthen his skills as a rider and horseman.

Forrest thought the new program sounded interesting and enrolled in the class while continuing to pursue his journalism degree. 

During the second semester of the program, Forrest traveled with Adam and a group of students to the Harmony Equine Center to select the horses for the semester. Forrest was evaluating a young, three-year-old horse named Commander and was instantly taken with his calm demeaner and kind personality.

The Importance of Training

An untrained horse is often more difficult to adopt into a new home because there’s a limited number of potential homes that can safely handle and work with them. Training resources can be scarce and there are often more horses waiting for training than there are available trainers. As an early partner of the ASPCA’s Right Horse Initiative, the leadership at CSU thought they could be a part of the solution with an innovative new pilot program.  

The design of the pilot program was simple; horses needing training from Colorado-based Right Horse Partners would be transported to the campus for a semester of hands-on training with the students. The horses would be ready to adopt with their new skill set and the students would walk away with training experience and a better understanding of equine welfare issues and equine adoption.

Each year, students pass through the equine sciences program with ambitions of graduating into fulltime careers within the equine industry. The program prepares the students to be future industry leaders and professionals while helping horses in transition.

Man riding brown horse

Building a Bond

Commander was then selected for the program, and Forrest spent the following months building their shared skillset. He was continually impressed by Commander’s willingness to learn and enjoyed building his own horsemanship skills as the semester progressed.

“I worked with Commander all summer and was impressed with how he listened, was kind and tried hard to please,” Forrest fondly remembers of their first summer together. “He was also pretty athletic for a growing three-year-old and fun to ride. He was learning a lot, and I was getting better at riding.”

“Forrest stopped paying attention to all the other horses in the program,” remembers the Class Student Coordinator at the time. “It was like there was no one else in the arena. He had the biggest smile on his face and it truly was love at first sight.”

It was clear that the pair were a good match, and as the semester ended, Forrest was surprised to realize that he wanted to bring Commander home.

“We had a pretty good partnership; this is one really cool horse. I started to think—do I want this horse? Is this something I could even consider?” Forrest tells us. “Things in my life were falling into place where I’d have mentorship from people involved with horses, a place to keep him and someone to help me care for him. Maybe this is a good opportunity.”

It didn’t take Forrest long to make up his mind. He completed the adoption application with the Harmony Equine Center and Commander headed to his new beginning with Forrest.

The Adoption Option

Forrest didn’t grow up with horses and feels strongly that horse ownership is attainable and fulfilling for those who come to horses later in life. Forrest embraced adoption as a friendly access point to the joys of horse ownership.

Now, Forrest recommends adoption for anyone looking to get into horses or bringing a new equine into their barn. Adoption organizations are invested in making quality matches between adopters and their horses and building partnerships like the one that was formed between Forrest and Commander.

“Adoption is also emotionally valuable,” Forrest adds. “You’re rescuing these animals and giving them a second chance and a new life. It feels good and feels important.”

Brown horse grazing

The Next Chapter

Forrest fully embraced the joys of horse ownership and the opportunity to further his riding education and partnership with Commander. Soon after bringing Commander home, he joined one of CSU’s riding clubs where he could enjoy the comradery of fellow riders and continue expanding his skills and knowledge.

“I joined the Ranch Horse team at CSU. I didn’t want to compete, but it was awesome to get out and ride and learn with other people and horses,” recalls Forrest.

In the summer, Forrest takes Commander back to his neighbor’s ranch to help with ranch chores and projects. Other times, he takes Commander on week-long trail rides in the mountains. The pair loves the challenge and adventure of trail riding, and it’s quickly become a shared passion.

Forrest’s love for learning and self-improvement hasn’t been quenched, and he continues to try new equestrian disciplines and attends local clinics to continue building his skills as a rider. Commander, in turn, thrives on the versatility of experiences.

Countless memories have been made and are in the making between this special horse and rider, all thanks to dedicated trainers. Adoption opened the door for Forrest to get involved with horses and made it accessible and feasible for him.

“He’s a friend. He’s a companion and we’ve created a lot of awesome memories together,” Forrest enthuses.

 One thing is for certain, a love of horses and a desire to learn brought one special #RightHorse to his right person.

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