According to Melanie Higdon, founder of Hidden Springs Horse Rescue in Marianna, FL, winter 2008 was an unusually long, hard season. “We weren’t able to bale as much hay as we normally do and were struggling to care for a large number of rescued horses,” she recalls. That’s why she was relieved to receive a grant from the ASPCA's Emergency Hay Fund Program. “I applied in October and we were awarded the funds in November. We are extremely grateful, as the ASPCA enabled us to feed our horses through the winter.”
One eight-year-old mustang in particular benefited from the grant that allowed Hidden Springs to stay in business.
In 2005, after being removed from his native California range, the wild horse was transported to Florida and adopted by a family that unfortunately had no experience in equine care. Three years later, the mustang, who had been kept in a small, fenced enclosure, still showed signs of fear around humans. Unable to socialize him, his adoptive family contacted Hidden Springs to help find him a more suitable home.
The mustang’s new shot at a home arrived in the form of 21-year-old pre-veterinary student Stephanie Lynn. Says Higdon, “Stephanie visited our farm, and as we spoke I could see her genuine love and compassion for horses.”
When Lynn first met the horse, she gently crossed into his pen carrying a bucket of feed. The once-frightened animal came right over to her. “I could feel that he wanted out of his small enclosure to run and stretch his legs," she says.
Lynn grew up with equines, and learned from her Native American grandmother how to ride bareback. It was her grandmother who helped name her new horse Chevayo, a Native American word that means “Spirit Runs Free."
Chevayo is now boarded at a farm near Chipley, FL, and shares a pasture with his new herd—Lynn’s three other rescued horses. “I might never ride him,” she says. “If I do, it’ll be bareback, so he can run as free and fast as he wants.”
Comments Jacque Schultz, Senior Director, ASPCA Community Outreach and Equine Grants Officer, "Times are tough for equine rescues. Many have seen their donations drop by 50 percent, while hay prices rise sky-high. Thanks to generous ASPCA donors, we were able to distribute nearly $150,000 in hay grants in 2008 to groups like Hidden Springs Horse Rescue.”
Check out other horses up for adoption.