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I didn’t go to the last local auction because I was nursing a personal horse at home who had contracted pneumonia, but I watched the Facebook updates with great interest. Forgotten Horses Rescue, another good SoCal group, put up this photograph of an elderly Thoroughbred stallion. He screamed my name pretty loud.

Silver Ray at the auction on July 13, 2013

His tattoo was only partially legible, so he was not yet identified.  I was thrilled to see that a wonderful lady named April Smith purchased him for $30 and kept him safe.  After I talked to April, we discovered he had sold with his Jockey Club papers, and his name was Silver Ray.  A little research and we were both stunned to learn what April had found:  a multiple graded stakes winner of $268,532.  He was foaled in Kentucky on May 23, 1989 and hsold as a yearling for $80,000 and his record included winning the 1st Hoist The Flag Stakes in 1991, coming in 3rd in the El Camino Real Derby of 1992, 3rd in the Timebank Handicap and 3rd in the Blue Eyed Davy Stakes in 1991.   As a sire, he was disappointing; his top money earner was 1998 mare Carlinga, who topped out at only $54,330.  However, he stood at nice farms and received excellent care.  He was sold out of racing to dressage trainer Jesus Piris, who bred the beautifully-conformed stallion for dressage foals — a much better niche for him.  One look at his picture with Jesus shows the type of care he received with the Piris family.

Silver Ray and Jesus Piris, approximately 6 years ago

Silver Ray and Jesus Piris, approximately 6 years ago

Silver Ray’s dressage foals were stunning and sweet, just like him, and it should have been a happy ending except that the family decided to stop breeding horses, in response to the declining market and poor economy.  Unfortunately they did not believe an older stallion should be gelded, so they sold Silver Ray to another breeding farm owned by Jose de la Torre in Redlands.  We do not know exactly what happened after that, although we did determine that Silver Ray’s last registered foal, an AQHA filly, was born in 2011 and bred by de la Torre.  We only know that Silver Ray showed up at the auction emaciated and neglected and with no reserve price, last Saturday.  After April had him a few days, she realized that while he was a VERY good stallion, he was still a stallion and she did not have a stallion-appropriate facility to house him, so we decided he should come to Polo Pony Rescue until a permanent placement was found.

Silver Ray is a sweetheart of a stallion.  Our vet looked at him the day after he arrived, on Thursday, and floated the teeth he has left – which is not many.  He has no top front teeth due to having cribbed them off, but he no longer cribs because someone did a cribbing surgery on him.  I am fairly sure it was de la Torre since he now has a permanent lump on his neck that was not there before.  He has been dewormed with Strongid, and will get a PowerPack when he is stronger.  Per our vet, he can eat orchard grass hay, alfalfa leaves but no stalks, and soaked hay pellets.  We have him on the “all you can eat” buffet – every time we see him, he gets more food.  In the morning, he has a flake of orchard grass and a pan with 2 scoops of soaked alfalfa pellets.  At noon he gets more orchard grass.  At night he gets more orchard grass plus a pan with a soaked mix of alfalfa pellets, rice bran, a bit of triple crown senior, electrolytes, probios, BL pellets and flax seed oil to shine him back up.  He also loves tiny bits of carrot, so I am going to bring a potato peeler to the barn so that he can get carrot shavings in his feed.

Do you have treats? I love treats!

We are hoping to get Silver Ray into one of the reputable Thoroughbred sanctuaries where he can live out his remaining days with the excellent care he ABSOLUTELY has earned and deserves.  In the meantime, he will be here at PPR talking to the mares all day (he is in love with my 25 y.o. mare and doesn’t understand why I’m a meanie and won’t put them out together), and he LOVES visitors so feel free to e-mail us if you’d like to meet him!  And of course, if you’d like to help feed him and cover his vet bills, our Paypal is or just click on “How to Help” on the left. Donations are GREATLY appreciated.

Also, we will be at the Thoroughbred Classic Horse Show this coming weekend in San Juan Capistrano. Please stop by to cheer on Bridal Chatter in the training level dressage, Poke Along in the intro dressage and Kellis Nevada in Sunday’s games!



Why Us?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while.  A quick scroll down my news feed on Facebook — and probably yours as well — reveals at least 50 rescues asking for donations.  Horse rescues, cat rescues, dog rescues and wildlife rescues.  Many of them doing absolutely wonderful work.  Others that know how to tug on your heartstrings by threatening that a horse will ship to slaughter if X dollars aren’t received by a rapidly-approaching deadline.  And the truth is, you don’t have that many dollars to send.  If you’re like most people, you might have $25 once a week or every payday that is disposable enough after you’ve taken care of yourself, your family and your own animals to send to a charity.

So how do you make that call?  Why should you give that $25 to Polo Pony Rescue and not one of those many others?   Well, I’d like to answer that question for you.

1.  We finish the job.  Like anyone else, when we take in a rescue, we don’t know what we’ve got.  Sometimes it’s sound and goes lame with work; sometimes it’s lame and goes sound with work.  Maybe it rides well, maybe it has issues, maybe it’s “as described,” maybe the person describing it must have been smokin’ something when they told us whatever they told us.  Maybe it’s up to date on routine maintenance or maybe it hasn’t seen a vet since 1997.  What we promise you is that we will finish the job.  Whether that horse needs vet, farrier, feed, supplements, training, re-training, show experience — whatever it needs, it will get.  We will not adopt it out until it looks good and is up to date on everything – feet, teeth, shots.  And if it is not rideable, it will get a safe place to live until physical infirmities make life unpleasant.  Which leads to #2:

2.  We don’t take in horses we can’t afford.  Rescues pleading that they are out of hay or can’t pay their vet bill frequently get donations.  We won’t play that game.  We aren’t going to be that rescue that owes the hay guy $5,000 or can’t pay the vet bill.   Our horses are going to eat very well, get their feet done every 7-8 weeks, get dewormed on schedule, get their supplements and live the best possible lives they can.  When we get a whopper vet bill, it punches us in the wallets and we greatly appreciate when donations ease that pain.  We will do our best to build donations to where our personal paychecks don’t have to support the rescue’s horses — but until that day, you will never see us have a “OMG we don’t have hay!” drama.  So the question is – will you choose to reward good or bad rescue management?  Think about that question before you click on the Paypal button.

3.  We will always take returns.  ALWAYS.  No excuses, no nonsense.  If an adopter cannot keep a horse, that horse is always welcome to return to us to find a new home.  Our philosophy is that a horse cannot be called “safe” if you aren’t doing your best to ensure it stays safe for life, not just until it is adopted.  No, we do not have a magical way of ensuring that no adoption will ever go south — but we will always do our best to follow up and take whatever action is appropriate to keep the horse safe for life.

4.  You will always see regular updates on adopted horses.  They aren’t going to disappear, they aren’t going to get forgotten, they aren’t going to be adopted to someone who doesn’t have Internet (one rescue’s excuse for not providing pictures and updates).  It’s 2013, we all have technology, and if you’ve donated to help a horse, we feel that you have a right to know how that horse is doing.  That’s how we felt when we were just donors!  Nothing irritated us more than hearing we didn’t have a right to updates on a horse that we’d put our hard-earned money toward saving, so we’ll never do that to you.

Updated picture of Aston, adopted 4 months ago

Updated picture of Aston, adopted 4 months ago

5.  We want adopters and adopted horses to be happy – we don’t just want to move inventory out the door.  That means our horses may stick around longer than you’re used to seeing with rescues that have horses adopting out every week.   We want the right home, not just “a” home.  Every horse goes out on a contract that provides for a 30 day window where the adopter may return the horse and receive a full refund of the fee assuming the horse is in the same condition as when adopted.  We want great adopters – people who know how to feed, whose horses get farrier care on a reliable schedule, who have a safe place for the horse to live, who will call us and get our advice if they run into a problem – and we want them to make an absolute love match with the horse they choose.  We know that no one can make a good decision on a horse in one ride, and we also know that many people who didn’t love a horse on the first ride “click” with it the fifth or tenth ride. Having a “money back guarantee” on our horses makes sense for both adopters and horses.

6.  We are strict about the adoption contract provisions and we do follow up visits to ensure the contract is being honored.  As a donor, this should matter to you. Why should you send your hard-earned money to rehab a horse that gets adopted out and promptly loses 200 pounds, shows up at the auction or is found sitting in a barbed wire pen with an empty water tub?  We have an attorney on our board and if our best efforts fail and a horse winds up in the wrong home, we have the legal firepower to retrieve that horse.

7. We take the idea of fiscal responsibility to our donors very seriously.  We don’t call the vet for things we can do ourselves, like shots and deworming.  We have shopped around to find the most reasonable/rescue-friendly and yet still highly qualified veterinarians and farrier.  We send our permanent retirees to an affordable location to live in luxury at a fraction of the cost of Southern California.  Our board members muck the stalls and provide the majority of hands-on care to the horses, on top of our regular full-time jobs, and none of us take a dime of pay.  Whether its our money or your donations, we promise to use our best possible judgment in keeping costs under control and yet providing top quality care to our horses.

8.  Except for our permanent retirees who are unsound to ride, we don’t “store” horses.  Adoptable horses that are with us are in a constant process of becoming healthier and better trained. They are ridden regularly or may even be in full training with a professional trainer.  They are not just getting older during their time with us, but are learning new skills, having new experiences, getting fit and becoming more desirable to adopters.

9.  When you adopt from us, it’s like buying lifetime technical support. Is your horse losing weight?  Acting up under saddle?  Doing something really obnoxious on the ground?  Developed a weird skin condition?  Call us – we’ll come on out and help you resolve the problem at no cost to you.  It’s like a lifetime warranty, but better, since you don’t have to call anyone in Bangladesh to get it honored.  🙂  Again – our goal is lifetime safety for the horse, and a happy owner who loves having that horse in their life.

10.  Do we take in the neediest horses?  The answer is that they are all needy.  Sure, the emaciated horse tugs on the heartstrings, but remember that many times a quality rescue is all that stands between a healthy horse who has to have a new home now and the auction/hoarder/horse trippers.  Life can go south in a big hurry for a horse.  Intercepting a horse before it winds up in the hands of that kill buyer or worse (yes, worse exists) is both better for the horse and more economical for the rescue and its donors.   Isn’t it always a worthy goal to stop a problem before it starts?  It’s not just the horse who has already suffered that needs and deserves your help and support.

Now, if you read all that and still think there is another rescue you’d prefer to donate to — we understand.  There are a ton of excellent rescues out there and it is a tough choice.   We just wanted to give you some things to think about so that your money does not go to an Internet scammer or a hoarder situation where the horses are suffering.  If you’re in L.A. and want to come meet us and our horses and make sure we’re not one of those who is “so much cooler online,” shoot us an e-mail!