Two Ponies Gallop into a Loving Home

November 18, 2020

When Casey was looking for a new horse for her daughter, she never expected to find the right horse through equine adoption. Little did she know that Rhett would change her mind … and join her family.

Casey’s two young daughters have grown up with a heart for horses. Unfortunately, one of her daughter’s beloved ponies passed away suddenly—leaving a void Casey wasn’t sure could be filled.

Unlike adopting a cat or dog, equine adoption is still a relatively uncommon practice. Casey was initially skeptical when one of her friends suggested she look at Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue for their next pony, but as she did some research into the organization, Casey was pleasantly surprised to learn that Heart of Phoenix would allow them to bring their adopted horse or pony back to the facility if they turned out not to be a perfect match for her daughter. This guarantee made Casey more confident about pursuing equine adoption, and she genuinely appreciated Heart of Phoenix’s dedication to matching the right horse with the right person. Casey decided to contact them.

Casey and her older daughter selected and brought home a pony named Rhett who had been born at Heart of Phoenix’s facility, and they instantly fell in love with their new four-year-old family member.

Rhett and Casey's older daughter

Although Casey’s daughter was a beginner rider, Rhett proved to be an invaluable teacher—and a few months later, the pair qualified to compete in the prestigious Pony Club Championships in Tryon, North Carolina. The championship brings together the best youth riders and horses from across the country. Competing at the event was a feat that Casey never expected her daughter to achieve so quickly.

Rhett helped cultivate a love for horses and riding in Casey’s youngest daughter, too. Although she had hesitated to consider adoption the first time, Casey knew this time around she would find the family’s next horse at Heart of Phoenix.

Most adopters are looking for a horse who can be ridden or handled easily on the ground, so professional training is a lifesaving part of an adoption organization’s work. Lack of training can be a huge barrier when it comes to helping at-risk horses find homes. One of Heart of Phoenix’s flagship programs is a special event where untrained, adoptable horses are paired with professional trainers for a 90-day training challenge. This innovative training challenge allows Heart of Phoenix to help more horses each year by capitalizing on the skills of a generous community of professional horse trainers.

The event, dubbed the Appalachian Trainer Faceoff, allows trainers and horses showcase their skills—ending with an adoption auction. During the adoption auction, pre-approved adopters can bid to take home one of the newly trained horses. Leading up to the auction, the pre-approved adopters work with the Heart of Phoenix staff and trainers to ensure that they’re selecting the right match for their abilities and needs. The winning bidders complete an adoption contract, and the resulting fees go back to the organization to help more animals.

Earlier this year, Casey’s youngest daughter instantly fell for an Appalachian Trainer Faceoff participant named Jonas.

Casey's daughter hugging Rhett

“This pony was a stallion in the wilds of West Virginia just two short years ago. My youngest daughter rode him a couple of times throughout the weekend, and we watched his progress in the showcase. His trainer was kind and so well-connected to him. Over the course of the event, I became convinced Jonas was the pony for us,” Casey recalled.

Casey and her daughters cheered on Jonas and his trainer in the final phases of the competition and adopted him that evening.

“We won him in the auction, and he has been with us since the end of August. He’s a kind and willing partner to a timid 12-year-old and takes outstanding care of my younger daughters. He fears nothing, and while it took him a week or so to fully trust us, he now knows he’s a part of our family and will always be taken care of,” Casey said.

Jonas and one of Casey's daughters

With two adopted ponies, Casey is already planning to adopt another equine—this time for herself. While she may have been initially unsure about finding the right horse through adoption, she’s now fully committed to equine adoption and the lifesaving mission of Heart of Phoenix.

“I fully believe in their mission and support their cause, and I know without a doubt they will find the right home for every horse who has the good fortune to find themselves in their hands.”

Ready to find your right horse? Visit My Right Horse to browse hundreds of adoptable horses nationwide.