Jillian + Horace

by | Nov 2018 | Story

Breed Mustang

Age 16

Sex Gelding

Color Bay

Height 14.1hh

I started volunteering at RVR Horse Rescue with my mom when I was 11. I had always loved all animals, and Mom wanted us to have an opportunity to spend time together while advocating for animals.

I had already met many wonderful horses at RVR before Horace arrived, but I instantly connected with him. I begged my parents to adopt him. He was already sponsored for adoption along with the horse he came into the rescue with. But luckily for me, his adopter knew how much I loved him and allowed me to play with him, groom him and take riding lessons with him. Eventually she decided that I was the right person for Horace and turned him back to RVR so that I could adopt him. I will always be thankful for this.

Horace’s adoption was a big event. Everyone at RVR was really happy for me and Horace. We had a potluck at RVR and 40 people came to see me promise to be Horace’s forever person and sign the adoption contract. (My mom signed officially since I was underage.) Because I have Kazakh heritage, we included some aspects of the culture into the adoption. Kazakhs were traditionally nomadic horsemen, and the horse is still an important part of the culture. The first time a child gets a horse is celebrated. I wore a replica of a national costume.

Horace and I spend most of our time together bareback with no bridle. For fun, we explore trails, play games, and jump over barrels. My riding goal is to be able to do mounted archery, so our training time includes working on guiding Horace only with my legs.

I don’t know if Horace and I will ever compete in shows or archery competitions, but our time together is so important. Horace enjoys our activities as much as I do, and it is important to me that he is as happy as I am.

What #RightHorse means to me

Helping horses at RVR was helpful for me, too. I have Dyslexia, and when I started volunteering at RVR I was really struggling at school. It wasn’t about grades. I was at a school specifically for dyslexic students and my reading had really improved. But I was feeling terrible about myself. I was so frustrated and depressed.

I was feeling this way when Horace came into my life. I always felt better when I was with him. He made me feel confident. When I was sad he would cheer me up, and if I was angry, he’d find ways to tell me to snap out of it.

Though our connection was instant, it has really grown over the past 4 years. We have learned a lot together and have an incredibly strong bond based on love and trust. He is my best friend. I know that I would not be where I am today – doing well in high school in academics, sports, and band- without him.

There are so many great horses in rescues waiting to find their special person. There are horses that can meet anyone’s needs or desires, from horses who are trained to compete to horses that love trail rides. Putting a spotlight on rescue horses is one of the best aspects of #RightHorse. It will help more horses like Horace find their special kid to grow up with.


  1. Elizabeth VandeSande

    Jillian I am so proud of you! You have grown so much! I am so glad that you found Horace and he found you! Love it! You are an awesome person!

  2. Aunt Maryann Canny

    Jilly, I am so happy for you both.It has been such a pleasure to watch you two “play” together.

    And next time I see Horace ,I shall whisper in his ear “Well done !”…(if you help me climb up again)


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