Butt washing fun? Why horse rescues matter.

My plan was to visit the Sugarcreek Horse auction tomorrow. It isn’t a place that I enjoy going but it is a place that I feel compelled to visit because I want to see the reality. I want to know from first hand experience what is going on because I want to be part of the solution…which means I need to be willing to observe the problem.

Trips to an auction that largely sells to slaughter is not my idea of an uplifting day. Or at least it wasn’t until I began attending with a rescue. In my early years of attending I left disheartened and depressed. Hopeless. Until I stumbled onto something that has improved it.

Many of you know that I have been involved with Last Chance Corral for years, even adopting a nurse mare foal from them in 2016. I went for the foals but I now admire the people. Victoria has dedicated her life and her finances to helping horses in need. Sometimes that is a cute, fuzzy foal and other times it is older horses that are starved, neglected or surrendered. These amazing people wade through the messes and find the good in them all while dealing with some TOUGH decisions.

Have you ever had this much fun washing butts?

It was during my visits to Last Chance Corral where I first met Rachel Bendler. She was dedicated to the vision of helping horses in trouble and she was right there on the front lines getting her hands dirty. The photo here shows Rachel giving me a ‘butt washing’ lesson on one of the foals…something that is done many, many times each day during that season.

It didn’t surprise me when in 2015 Rachel sent me a text telling me that her dream to rescue slaughter bound horses was now a reality. Her rescue, Bella Run Equine, became an official 501(c)3. 

This is the connection that makes my trips to Sugarcreek more bearable. Rachel and I text and my trips line up with hers. I go to the auction and I still see the reality of uncared for, underfed, or injured animals…or sometimes simply untrained animals…or sometimes quiet 4H horses…run through the pen but now I have hope. Now I watch theses horse get saved. I watch Rachel evaluate, pick and fill her trailer. Sometimes I write a check. Sometimes she asks for my thoughts. Always she gives me hope. I follow her on Facebook.

Which is how I knew even before she texted me that our trip to Sugarcreek was going to be postponed. We have been planning on going tomorrow but I saw last night that she was probably going to be too busy. Have you seen the posts about the horses in Jackson County? The horses that needed to be rescued? Guess where they are now….yep. Bella Run Equine.

I texted first and told her she looked a bit busy. She laughingly agreed (gotta love emojis). When the timing is right the sale will still be there. The horses will still be there. Much like the starfish story the problem will still be there. But also like the starfish story it will make a difference in the lives of those that are saved.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to know that there are amazing people out there who are really helping. They are making a difference. They are getting their hands dirty. They make tough decisions that sometimes I am (selfishly) glad that I don’t have to make. They cry…because they aren’t hardened to this problem or avoiding this problem…they are knee deep, hands dirty, right in the middle of the problem because of love.

There are days I think about filling all of my stalls with rescued horses but I don’t believe that is my true calling. On those days, I look at Presto, take a look at Last Chance Corral or Bella Run online and decide how I will help… even when my little doesn’t seem like enough. A like, a share, a kind word,  a post, a dollar, a horse, a barn full of horses…do what you can for where you are at. But do.

Photos from yesterdays rescue, link to Bella Runs fb post (https://www.facebook.com/BellaRunEquine/posts/1412854255465764)

So sad…

How is this horse even standing?


  1. Helen Lou Parnell on July 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Abuse so sad. Is there a donation address for the Bella rescue?

  2. Sue Honeycutt on July 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    We forever feel gratitude and admiration for Rachel, Zach and their team of mighty rescuers. We are blessed to have the grey mare, Kate whom you saw Rachel rescue during your first visit to Sugarcreek. We call her ” Kate the Great” and she is especially beloved to her owner, my daughter-in-law, Katie! She, and her companion Oliver ( also courtesy of Bella Run) are proof of how rescue horses can enhance the lives of the people they own!

    • Stacy Westfall on July 14, 2017 at 7:46 am

      I know that mare! Thanks for the update, very happy to hear that she (and her friend) are doing well and that your family is enjoying them:)

  3. Don Rathke on July 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing….

  4. Janis Lovi on July 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Thank God there are people that do this. I don’t think I could. I so admire these people. I send money when I can and have bailed a mare/foal pair that is now in a well run rescue. What people don’t always realize is how hard these people work to take care of and rehabilitate these horses. It is never ending.

    • Stacy Westfall on July 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Exactly! I admire the amount of physical and emotional energy that they spend on these horses. Even on the days that one cannot donate money they can always help spread the word, promote a fund raiser, or shovel stalls. I can’t do it all the time either but I sure do appreciate that places like Bella Run can!
      Thanks for the comment:)

  5. Jenny Wood-Outhwaite on July 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I love that you shared these thoughts and experiences. I follow many rescues and try to support our local 2 shelters as best I can. Following these rescues and volunteering sometimes can get you seeing red; feeling negative about HOW this can go on and WHY people who do this or not reach out for help sooner. You’re right though. Behind all these rescues and shelters the light IS the people and it IS the many many many success stories. I guess the moral is keep your focus on that, be a part of the light in whatever way you can. There is always something you can do.

  6. Shelly on July 13, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you, Stacy for the good article and your help with the rescued horses. My heart goes out to all the people and animals on this road. They have my admiration to the utmost!

  7. Barbara Hollands on July 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I am wondering if there were arrests made? Unless someone has dementia there is no excuse and even then someone has to see the animals deteriorating and can get help.

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