ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Save the Horses hosted its first charity horse show at Wills Park Equestrian Center June 11.
The nonprofit rescues neglected, abandoned and abused horses to rehabilitate and find them new homes, according to its website. Save the Horses put on the show in conjunction with Brownwood Farms and the Rolling Hills Saddle Club.
Mellissa Cotton, the show’s organizer, said the show came about after Save the Horses founder Cheryl Flanagan’s sister, Michelle Williams — who runs the Canine Adoption Network — said her group would not host its annual animal rescue fair at Wills Park in June. Flanagan asked Cotton if her riding coach would be interested in doing a riding show with Save the Horses, and from there, the idea took off.
The show featured dozens of spectators and riders of all ages and levels who could enter a range of classes, from open halter to hunter under saddle. All class fees went straight to benefitting the animals at Save the Horses. Several vendors, such as North Fulton Music School and Abundant Love, were also present at the show.
Spectators could also visit two dwarf horses from the rescue, Willow and Saucy. Save the Horses volunteer Barbara Cure her favorite part of the day was watching children interact with the two dwarf horses.
“For me, watching the kids’ faces when they see a horse that’s their size is just great,” Cure said. “It’s very safe for them with these guys.”
Cure said she believes that having an organization like Save the Horses is important for the community because they can save and rehabilitate animals that have been abused both mentally and physically.
“Just like with dog rescues, just because [a horse is] a rescue doesn’t mean that they can’t do what they’re meant to do,” Cure said. “So we get them ready to go, we do work with them and then people can adopt them.”
Another aspect of Save the Horses explores how animals can help people. Cure said the organization has a program where foster children can be matched with a horse that becomes his or her friend.
“Every week, that child can come out and groom that horse and they can tell it all their secrets,” Cure said. “It’s a safe place for them to come.”
Cotton said that Save the Horses received all kinds of donations for the show, from food to printing supplies.
“We’ve had an amazing response from our community,” Cotton said, adding she hopes the show will help spread the word about its cause.
“My personal goal was to raise awareness — that, first, we’re here,” Cotton said. “We’re right in the middle of horse country [and] we want people to know we exist.”
Cotton also said she wanted to show the value of what a rescued horse could be. Seven horses from Save the Horses competed in the show.
Cotton said the community has been supportive of the cause.
“They want to help, they want to be involved [and] they want to support us,” she said.