Shelter from the storm

Snickers is one of 89 abused and neglected horses seized from a farm in Spokane. Trainer Kent Wright is hoping to work with her to accept a rider within the next four weeks. When she first arrived in Camas, Snickers would run away from people. Five days later, she allowed Wright to pet and brush her. Buy this photo

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The Clark County Executive Horse Council’s adoption program was created to help rehabilitate and find homes for the horses relinquished to Clark County Animal Control. It is run entirely by volunteers and has helped care for 113 horses since 2007.

The Adopt-a-Horse Program welcomes financial and in-kind donations of hay, feed, tack for resale, as well as volunteer foster homes. All foster families are provided with feed and cover hoof and veterinary care until the horses are adopted. To adopt a foster horse or make a donation, visit www.adoptahorsepr...

Snickers tosses her head lightly as trainer Kent Wright talks soothingly to her.

“It’s OK,” he said. “You’re all right.”

“What we are going to do is take a nice, calm steady approach with her,” the Cantera Equestrian Center horse trainer continued. “She has been let down by people and just needs a friend.”

Snickers stood quietly, but carefully eyed a photographer as the camera clicked. She was comfortable enough to let Wright and his toddler pet her gently, a huge improvement from just a few days before.

“When she first got here, Snickers would come up and sniff you, then she would bolt to the other end of the field,” said Julie Kennedy, co-owner of Cantera Equestrian and foster coordinator for the Clark County Executive Horse Council’s adopt-a-horse program.

Snickers arrived in Camas on Friday, Jan. 17. She is one of 89 neglected horses seized from a Spokane farm. She and another horse, Sweetie Pie, are being fostered by Kennedy and Beth Courtney of La Center, a national horsemanship trainer.

Kennedy and her business partners, Cindy Russ and Kelly Kidd, decided to take in Snickers as a foster horse after learning her initial needs were too overwhelming for other foster homes. She will stay at Cantera Equestrian for approximately four weeks.

“I think she will be a fine mare for somebody, but she needs to learn ground manners and needs hoof and veterinary care first,” Kennedy said.

Snickers is skittish around humans, may be pregnant, needs to have her teeth cleaned and hooves fixed, be de-wormed, and is somewhat malnourished.

“It will be an intense four weeks for her,” Kennedy noted.

She and Wright hope to get Snickers comfortable enough to accept a rider.

“We have the facility and space here to house her, and a trainer to work with her,” Kennedy said. “When I heard about this case, my heart went out to those horses. They were seized from a farm that had no water, no food and dead horses on the property.”

Usually, the Adopt-a-Horse Program only serves as a shelter for horses relinquished to the local Clark County Animal Control, in cases of extreme neglect or cruelty. However, due to the sheer number of horses that required placement, the Clark County non-profit stepped in to help.

“It is a unique case,” said Pat Brown, program coordinator. “We wanted to help out another county that was overwhelmed with horses.”

Now, most of the horses have been adopted, fostered or placed with other rescue groups. Only eight remain with Spokane County Regional Animal Protective Services.

Kennedy said she will keep two stalls open for foster horses. Current fosters are Snickers and Diesel, who came to the center on Dec. 21. He will remain at Cantera Equestrian until he gets adopted.

“He is pretty friendly and loving,” Kennedy said.

She noted that Wright’s 18-month-old son, Maverick, rides Diesel.

“He’s just a big, lovable guy,” she said. “He had some training in the past, then got to this rough place in life. He came to us about 500 pounds underweight and with a tumor on his right eye.”

This required an $800 surgery to correct.

“Horses are big animals and all the bills associated with them are big — groceries, veterinary treatment and regular hoof care,” said Loris Harris, co-coordinator for Adopt-a-Horse.

Kennedy has been active in the Adopt-a-Horse program since 2011, when she went on a rescue.

“The horses had been trapped in a barn,” she recalled. “They were literally trying to eat their way out. It was horrible. I decided then that helping them was something I wanted to be involved in for the rest of my life.”

Harris cautions horse owners to be careful when selling their animal, lest they end up in a bad situation.

“Oftentimes, horses sold through Craigslist or auctions find less than ideal homes,” she said. “When selling your horse, please check to make sure your animal goes to a kind owner with sufficient resources for feed, dry shelter, turnout and regular veterinary/hoof care.”

Although her business focuses mainly on riding lessons and boarding horses, Kennedy will always have a place in her heart, and stables, for less fortunate animals.

“I want all of our riders to understand that there are horses out there in neglectful situations and we need to do what we can to help,” Kennedy said. “Having an equestrian center has been a lifelong dream of mine and I want to make sure we have space for foster horses. It’s one of the ways we want to give back.”