When Brenda M., a self-described “mare fanatic,” accompanied three of her granddaughters to the Texas State 4-H Horse Show in Bryan, Texas, pharmacy to dose policy in 2022 to watch them participate in a barrel racing competition, she became smitten with Logan, a 10-year-old adoptable American Quarter Horse also competing in the show. Kendall Higgins, 19, of Willis, Texas, showcased the mare’s talents.
“There was a flag draped over Logan, and it flew in the breeze over her hips,” Brenda recalls. “Kendall did a wonderful job on the voice commands. I thought to myself, ‘Let me find out more about this little horse.’”
Following the show, Brenda met Kendall and adopted Logan.
Helping Horses in Need
Each horse featured in the Texas 4-H Homes for Horses show had been at risk at some point in their lives.
“Equines in transition frequently end up vulnerable to inhumane treatment as they move between careers or owners,” says Christie Schulte-Kappert, Senior Director of Equine Welfare at the ASPCA.
The ASPCA Right Horse program, which provides options for horses to safely transition between homes by increasing adoption opportunities, helped connect the Texas A&M Extension office with a grant from the Texas Thoroughbred Association and provided support as the 4-H Homes for Horses show was built among several Texas-based equine adoption partners and Texas A&M Extension.
Horses in the Texas 4-H Homes for Horses program come from a variety of ASPCA Right Horse Partner shelters and rescues in the region, largely the Humane Society of North Texas and SPCA of Texas.
As part of the program, horses are matched to youth trainers who work with the animals to help make them more adoptable. The trainers are supported by a $1,000 stipend to supplement the costs of training, veterinary and farrier care and feed.
Transformed by Training
Kendall acquired Logan in September 2021 at the program’s start and had 10 months to train the skittish mare, sourced from the Humane Society of North Texas.
“She was untrained and unridden,” says Kendall. “It took me 30 minutes just to catch her in a stall. I couldn’t put on a halter on her. She was completely green.”
Kendall, who has been riding since she was nine, taught Logan basic skills and manners and trained her for riding—skills that will serve Logan for the rest of her life and help her remain a beloved, safe family member.
“She’s come a long way,” says Kendall, a freshman at Texas A&M majoring in animal science. “I did some groundwork with her and, not long after, could mount her with confidence. She was a quick learner.”
As Brenda and Kendall spoke after the show, Kendall wiped away tears.
“Logan and I were partners,” Kendall said as Brenda’s granddaughters rode Logan in the exercise arena. “It was hard to see her go.”
A Lifetime of Loving Horses
Horses have been part of Brenda’s life since she was a toddler.
“I’ve always loved them,” says Brenda, who has lived on her family’s Hearne, Texas property for 56 years. “I was six months old when my uncle put me on a six-week-old colt named Little Paint. She grew to be huge, and I rode her many a mile, even in the rain, bringing in cows.”
When she was 15, Brenda got her first horse and learned how to barrel race. She and her late husband Melvin, a calf roper and welder, taught their four daughters to ride.
Today, Brenda has four horses on her property: Logan, now called Baby Doll; Peanut Butter; a Palomino mare; and two geldings, Ace and Peanut, who belong to one of her daughters.
“Baby Doll and Peanut Butter get along well,” says Brenda. “They have three acres to themselves that we call the horse patch. Baby Doll will stand at the very end of the field, looking toward the house, and as soon as I start driving toward her, she starts to walk. As I get closer, she’ll trot and then put her head at the front of the gate. She knows my truck.”
Brenda’s grandson Jake, 25, enjoys riding Baby Doll, whom Brenda says is easygoing and “loves to be pampered.”
“I’ve loved and enjoyed all my horses,” Brenda adds. “But Baby Doll is special. She’s my pet.”
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