Rescues thinking outside of the Box – Meet Buck!

Well, I think that part of what I am going to speak about today may seem controversial.  But, if you step aside from the controversy and find the nugget in there, that’s what I’d like to discuss.  Thinking outside of the box.


We all benefit by thinking in different ways and from different perspectives.  And that’s what I’m saying here.  Specifically, Equine Welfare Organizations and Rescues sometimes have a difficult time thinking of new ways to bring the same message:  We need donations!

Bringing in money is a tough job…

So today, I wanted to bring attention to Margo Sutter who thought of a new way to bring in funds for her rescue, Mid America Horse Rescue.


She saved a TB yearling, brought him to extreme health, trained him and then put him back on a less competitive racing track.  What he wins goes back to his buddies at the farm.


Now, I can hear what you are thinking… horse racing is dangerous and bad for the horse.  Well, it can be, yes.  And, this is where we have to suspend our disbelief and think of the bigger idea here.  I say that because not every trainer juices his horses or trains them too young or does whatever just to win…  For today, I am going to go with the great idea of taking a TB and letting him do what he loves to do – for the benefit of his fellow horses.  I’m going to believe that this rescue owner and horse lover is doing it in the right way, for the right reasons with the right attitude.

Why?  Because in Margo Sutter’s interviews, she doesn’t seem very upset whether Buck wins or places or loses.  She says she is doing it because he loves to run.  C’est tout.


Buck was one of those TB industry failure yearlings.  He had been sold for $200 and was on his way to a slaughterhouse in Mexico.  Somehow, Margo heard of his plight, along with 6 others, and she hightailed it down to the yard.  She was prepared to buy them all, but the new owner demanded $1000 each.  Crushed, Margo had to decide which 3.  Heartbreaking.  She says she still sees the faces of the other 4 horses left behind.  So sad.

Rescued Buck, the Surprise Race Horse!

(The fact that the hauler was charging so much is another story.)

Buck had a foot injury, was limping and also suffered a puncture to his shoulder.  Margo knew no one else would rescue him so she took him as well as another mare and a filly.  Thus began the Mid America Horse Rescue.  She saved Buck and Buck saved her.  Sutter says she fell in love with his soulful eyes and lovey personality. She nurtured him back to health.


He was gangly with a big head and big feet.  Slowly but surely, he grew into himself and became very confident.  Sutter noticed that he was kinda looking and acting like a real racehorse. He sure seemed like he could run.  And, he seemed to have the mind… So, she took a chance on a hunch and sent him to training.  Buck flourished.


Buck had his premier race in September of ’09.  He didn’t come out of the gate well.  Some say he looked drunk and wobbly.  By the time he got it together, the other horses were way ahead.  The race was being run while Buck brought up the rear.  But somewhere in there, Sutter says, Buck had an epiphany.  It happened on the backstretch.  Buck finally realized that there were other horses and he was in a race.  That extra TB gear kicked in and he managed to finish 4th!    Brother Buck brought back a check for $1740!


Sutter says that Buck’s dark brown eyes were dancing after the race!  He was so proud of himself that he goofy pranced all around with an expression of, “How’d I do?  How’d I do?!”  She felt that Buck loved it.  He was like a giddy kid.


Well, he is no front runner in elite races.  But, he has had a few good finishes in his several races with the top being 3rd.  As long as Buck likes to do this, she’ll let him.  If she ever sees him hang his head at the track, his racing days will be over.



Gosh!  Think of the marketing possibilities here!  It would be wonderful to start a “rescued horse” track — as long as all the other stuff didn’t go along with it.  Imagine if they could create the same environment that they have at the mule races.  I mean, heck, mules are so unpredictable that all the owners and riders laugh almost as much as they cry. The possible outcomes and inroads from this are spinning around in my brain.  What a good idea – to race this discarded horse!  In fact, I checked to see how many newspapers picked up this story and there were too many to count!  This story ran everywhere.  Everywhere.

And for Buck, what a great ambassador!  Any way to bring horse rescue awareness to the general public is a good thing.  He’s the grain winner in the barn, for sure!


I was not able to find much on their website about Buck.  I noticed that their rescue herd is up to 80 in numbers.  So, I’m sure they need to bring in some donations… I did find that they are having a Fund Raiser October 30th, Silks and Suits.  If you click here and scroll down, there will be an article about it.

Click on the image to go to the website.

What I find really interesting is that the Fund Raiser is fairly normal.  It is black tie and the tables are expensive.  Fine.  That is a good way to secure donations.  They have a popular Key Note speaker, Alex Brown.  And, they have original artwork by equine and western artists for auction.

But, they also have a “thrown-away TB that has blossomed into a race horse”!  I sure hope they have a display of his phoenix.  I wonder if they are planning to use his accomplishments in any way?  I wonder if he will throw down a challenge to any other rescued racing horse out there a la Seabiscuit?  Wouldn’t that be fun to have clean style bets/donations taken during the Fund Raiser (when everyone is in the spirit or full of spirits)?!  It could be such an uplifting display to have rival rescue horses pitted against each other.  It is a total win-win.  Winner and its rescue takes the larger share and loser takes his share.  Fun!


So this whole “rescue horse as his own marketer” got me thinking…

I was trying to think of something simple for an everyday rescue to accomplish that would bring awareness and hopefully, donations.

My best idea in the hour I’ve been contemplating this is (drumroll):  Bring a very docile rescue horse out to the biggest local toy store and let kids paint him.

Docile horse being painted by a kid...

Huh, you say?  Well, I think if you asked the local toy story if you could have some of his parking lot (sometimes the lots are owned by private parties), brought shaving, shade, a pen, water based paints, little smocks and other fun kiddy stuff,  you could let the kids stick their hand in the paint and then put their hand on the horse.

I’ve seen something like this somewhere before.  I think it was at a fair.  The kids couldn’t get enough!  But, if you did it in front of a toy store or some other store that needs kid traffic, and advertised locally, you would bring in crowds.  And, if you had a nice placard about that particular horse and about his other friends back at the ranch… and offered a Play Day out there that they could sign up for, and had a big donation jar shaped like him, and the kids got their picture taken with Docile, and that photos would be sent to the parents via email, and you had a washing station that was manned by a goat or a dog or some other fun creature…, and the parents could purchase some items that benefited the Rescue,  and everything was safe, well manned, organized and legal… well, I think a Rescue could come away with a whole new mailing list, a full donation jar, sign-ups for another event and perhaps a few more fans and a fistful of dollars.

Or something like this...

Dunno.  I’m just sayin’, thinking outside the box could possibly bring horse rescue awareness to people who don’t run in our circles…  We need to break out of the stall if we want to delight and engage those that don’t know horses like we do…  ;)



They evidently took part in a childrens cancer camp and one of the fun activities for the kids was just like what I was speaking about above, where you let kids hand paint on  horses.  Here are some pics.  Too cute!  I understand the B&W Paint was a stud just 6 months before.  So, if you get the right kid lovin’ horse and the right horse lovin’ kids, it is a huge success!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The September Bucket Fund will benefit Grace, the skinniest horse still alive.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible horse,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

September's Bucket Fund is the Amazing Grace, the skinniest horse still alive. Click here to learn her story and make any size, secure Pay Pal Donation. Easy and it means so much!

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

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Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

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Animal Communication. The Regular Kind…

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 | Filed under Musings


You know, I kinda get my feathers ruffled when people think animal communication is only available through special people who possess that gift.   Now don’t get me wrong… I stand behind those who can chat with pets who have passed or help solve problems between pets and owners.  I am speaking about the regular kind of animal communication.  The everyday kind.

Perhaps if we considered communicating with our horses to be on par with speaking to any being who doesn’t know our language, culture or customs, we’d be heading in the right direction.

Think about it.  When you meet someone who is foreign and doesn’t speak your language, you always excuse the misinterpretations and misunderstandings as “cultural” or a “language barrier”.  You don’t assume they are of a lower intelligence (or maybe you do a little bit…) and you don’t assume you will never figure it out.  You assume there is a gap that needs to be bridged and you set a plan.


As an aside, I’m going to relate a story to you of when I was totally the foreigner.  I was the one with absolutely no communications skills.

When I was 12, my father thought it would be great to give me a trip to Hawaii.  But, instead of a vacation (having been brought up during the Depression), he wanted me to learn something about other cultural work ethics so he placed me with his Hawaiian friend who owned a huge macadamia nut farm on the big island.

Talk about a round peg in a square hole. OMG.  I was bigger than all the other kids, I didn’t know to take off my shoes when entering a house, I was the wrong color, I couldn’t stomach the food, I didn’t know what was going on at any given time and the bugs scared me to death!  I cried every night.  And even though I knew a form of their language (they were very good at pidgin english and spoke it behind my back…) and I certainly knew I was still in the US… I had NO IDEA how to communicate.  The culture and customs were so foreign that I begged my father to let me come home.  He did.  And, I never forgot that, obviously.  The tables were turned and I was the one everyone thought was ignorant.

I know how it feels to have someone say the same thing louder or get angry when I don’t understand.


Basically, what I’m getting at here is that there isn’t only one way to communicate and even if there was, you have to listen before you can hear.  Even within our own species we all communicate differently and what seems normal to one person can definitely be worlds apart from someone else.  Communication skills have to be learned.


What do we do when we cannot communicate with a human of another culture or language?  We study.  We immerse ourselves in the culture, learn the language and try to assimilate in order to understand the nuances.  This is reasonable and accepted as what we do to understand those who are totally foreign.

Why don’t we do this with our animals?

My point is that if we really want to communicate with our animals, we need to study them.  (After all, they spend all day studying us…)  We need to immerse ourselves in their particular culture, learn the language and assimilate (if we want to go that far).  Considering that animals are different than humans, we might have to put a little more elbow grease into the effort, but who gave us the idiotic notion that animal communication is some psychic mumbojumbo?    Just study them, learn the culture and you’re in!

Of course, most of us don’t have the time to devote to animal communication like a Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey.  Truly, in our society, many of us don’t have Jaques Cousteau research time, but we probably have more than we are willing to devote to our animals.  I’m certainly guilty of slacking in this area.

And, many of us humans feel that it is the animal’s job to understand its master.

Hmmmmm, how advanced.


What kills me is that animals are pretty efficient communicators.  You don’t ever see an animal cocking its head in confusion (unless they are looking at their human) or boring each other with dinner party, supercilious blah blah.  They not only get their point across efficiently to each other, we humans don’t even understand how they do it half the time. For example, how do dolphins pods and horse herds communicate movements instantaneously… .  We don’t understand it and we cannot do it.

Yet, we think they cannot communicate.  But the truth is, they try.  They try in the way that they know.  And, sometimes they shout the same thing at us because they think we might understand if they add a bite to it – just like us.

What we have to do is take the time to listen.  Take the time to observe.  Take the time to immerse ourselves into their worlds for a while to understand their language.  Even a little bit would get you by… after all, High School Spanish works better than no Spanish, eh?


Now I’m not saying that horses are just as good at poetry as we are… I’m merely suggesting that they communicate in their own way, very well.  And, just because we don’t know “what they are thinking”, doesn’t mean we cannot understand them.  I mean, I don’t know what you are thinking unless you tell me and I still don’t know for sure.  But, my gut and my intuition tell me what I think you are thinking.  And, that is the key here.  I have years of experience understanding peoples body language and facial expressions.  I know I haven’t spent that kind of time considering my horses in the same way.


Horse Whisperer status is probably what you might be able to achieve if you had the time and the inclination to immerse yourself into the equine world like a Jane Goodall and were able to develop a “way” with them physically.  The term Horse Communicator connotes those who have a “gift” that is beyond everyday communication and is more cerebral.  But, I guess I am saying that there is a simpler version of animal communication than that.  I think we can all learn to be better at horse whispering and better at animal communication.  Maybe not on an expert level or a “gifted” level, but we all have the ability to understand and communicate with animals.  For example…

The Dorrance brothers were probably animal communicators and horse whisperers in their own way.  They didn’t feel that they had a special gift; they said that they worked really hard at understanding the horse.  They took the time and had the devotion.  They learned the culture, language and customs of the horse.

So to me, learning animal communication, the regular kind, is the same as being dropped into a macadamia nut farm in rural Hawaii in 19somethingsomething.  You sink or swim.  And, the only reason we don’t put the effort into learning the language of our animals is because Dad comes and rescues us… Or, to put it plainly, we don’t have to.

That’s all I’m saying…  If you really want to communicate better with your horse on a day to day basis, you already have the tools.  You need you, your horse, unscheduled time and concentrated effort…   And, I’m pretty sure the Dorrance Brothers would say that it didn’t happen overnight.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The September Bucket Fund will benefit Grace, the skinniest horse still alive.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible horse,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

September's Bucket Fund is the Amazing Grace, the skinniest horse still alive. Click here to learn her story and make any size, secure Pay Pal Donation. Easy and it means so much

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!