We spoke with FriendshipCollar Rep Hayley about her incredible story of destiny & friendship with her lovely horse, Alana, from @hayleygeorgey. Enjoy reading their story below - there is a happy ending! 💕
A Rough Start
Alana had quite a rough start to life, and that’s putting it mildly. Her previous, abusive owners left her abandoned on a property in Central California. Those owners had originally asked the kind, loving people who lived on the property to board her for free. They lived close, and said it was just a temporary arrangement. They had cut Alana’s mane and tail as short as possible, and continued to cut it whenever they were there visiting, all the way up to the bone & neck, so they wouldn’t have to take care of it or brush it. They told the kind homeowners that it was because there were burrs getting caught in her hair, but it was later realized that was one of many lies told to them to cover up the abuse.
After a short while, and without warning, they up and left and never came back for Alana. In the years they were around her, they had been so rough with her, even at such a young age, that she was afraid to take a bit and afraid to have a saddle on her back. She couldn’t be cinched, and you couldn’t put anything over her ears. She flinched at the smallest things, and was absolutely not okay with being ridden. They forced her to do so many things in such a wrong, rushed, unkind way that they made her fearful of things that should’ve been positive experiences.
Time for Waiting
The kind folks that took her in let her live free on their property for seven years. They bought her carrots and hay and fed her, snuggled her daily, and loved her greatly, but weren’t able to give her the training and attention she so desperately needed and deserved. For years they waited for her owners to return and tried contacting them countless times until they were sure she had been completely abandoned. She had been through so much and really needed someone patient who was able to completely dedicate themselves to her and her rehabilitation. At this point, she was basically a pasture pet running around wild.
A Simple Purchase Leads to New Friendship
I drove 5 hours to Central California in traffic the day before Thanksgiving in 2015 to purchase a used jumping saddle from Alana’s temporary mama. I saw the saddle listed on Facebook and for some reason just felt like it was worth driving that far down for. When I arrived and went down to the pasture to see the saddle, I heard the sound of a horse galloping toward me. I could hear the thundering sound of her hooves from across the pasture. I quickly took my phone out and started taking a video of the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. She stopped right in front of me and allowed me to hug her and snuggle her while I basically melted into a love puddle. Little did I know, I had just taken a video of my first horse and I meeting for the very first time.
Making it Happen
I soon was told about her unique situation, and about how she didn’t really have a family of her own. I had been leasing a horse for some time, but had never owned one myself. I decided right then and there that I would do whatever it took to adopt Alana, and figure out how to make it work. I moved to the country area of NorCal to rent a room on land so that she could be right next to me. I knew I may never ride her, but that didn’t matter to me so long as she was happy in her home with me.
The day after my birthday, on January 2nd, I paid some friends to bring me down to their barn and trailer Alana all the way back up to my new place in the Sacramento area. I paid one dollar to adopt her and was in tears from the pure joy I felt knowing I was about to own my first horse; the best horse in the entire universe. I got her home and started slowly working with her. I realized she had so much potential and was the smartest little thing, but just needed to be approached differently than your average horse. I started riding her bareback with just a halter and lead rope a few minutes at a time. She did not like being saddled, and especially would not take a bit, but seemed not to mind being ridden too much as long as it was just me and her without all the “scary” gear.
After many weeks and a lot of patience, we built up her confidence and trust and worked with her kindly, patiently, and often, and made training fun for her again. She not only started allowing a saddle and a bit, but seemed to really look forward to working with me. We moved down to Southern California in 2018 where she is now happy, loving life, and adoring her new barn with trails and arenas and thousands of acres of mountains to adventure through.
Becoming the Pirate Pony
In January 2019, we took her to the vet and they found cancer in her left eyelid. It was especially prominent under her eyelid, out of view unless you flipped the eyelid out. We had five days notice to either put her through extensive chemotherapy with needles going into her eyelid every two weeks for months on end with a large chance of it not working, or removing the eye and taking all of the cancer out with it. The cancer had spread too far to just remove the eyelid and keep the eye.
After much deliberation, I decided to have them remove the eye and give her the best chance at a cancer-free, pain-free life. Her eye was successfully taken out on January 16th, and since the surgery she has been so much happier. I can tell she is feeling better and it makes me beyond happy. She spooks less, loves face snuggles now, and is a lot more cuddly. She also seems happier on our rides. I am still working with her to get her used to living with one eye, but she is finally getting the hang of it and bumping into things less often.
The Forever Friendship
I would do anything for this perfect pony. She means the world to me. So, when Friendship Collar came out with their new Friendship Halter, I just knew we had to have one. Leaving her for even an hour is awful, but knowing I can look down at my matching bracelet makes me remember her extra and feel closer to her. I will spend the rest of her life giving her all the things that she didn’t have growing up with those awful first owners and pampering her as much as possible. I will be forever grateful for the family that took her in when she was abandoned, and loved and cared for her until it was time for her to find me and take over my life (in the best way possible).
Our Friendship Halter means that I never have to feel far from my best friend. It means that when we’re together, we get to not only match, but feel more connected. It means that a once abandoned horse gets to have the most beautiful, quality accessories and feel extra pampered. It means we get to provide food for shelter animals with our purchase. It’s just another way that I’m able to show her how important she is to me. Our Friendship Halter makes our friendship so much sweeter, and for that, we are thankful. For this horse, I am the most thankful.