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Our Stories


Art and Michelle looked for over a year. They searched and called around looking for that special horse that would mean the world to their 31-year-old daughter, Trina. Trina has special both mental and physical disabilities meaning she needed a very special horse. By luck, one of the people they contacted told them about Safe Haven Equine Rescue and Retirement Home in Gilmer, Texas.

Michelle called Safe Haven and spoke with Richard Fincher, the Executive Director. Richard told her that there were several horses here at Safe Haven. He invited them to come visit the horses to see if Trina clicked with any of them. Trina saw Fonzie and fell in love; the love turned out to be mutual.

Fonzie now has an amazing life with a loving mom thanks to Michelle adopting him for her daughter Trina. Life for Fonzie hasn’t always been full of love and kindness though. Before he was rescued Fonzie was kept in a small field with 8 other horses. They had no hay, no clean water, and owners who didn’t feed or care for them.

In February of 2016, local law enforcement officers stepped in to seize these 9 horses. Safe Haven was contacted to pick up all 9 horses. Fonzie, known then as GW8, was a 9 year old gelding, per the vet, and at least 250 lbs. underweight. The vet also said he was anemic, dehydrated, malnourished, had severe internal parasites, had a fungus called rain rot along his spine, and that he needed his teeth and feet taken care of. Volunteers at Safe Haven went to work spending hours caring for and feeding Fonzie and the other rescued  horses. They treated the rain rot and parasites. The farrier came on a regular basis until his feet were healed from the abscesses and thrush caused by lack of care. The Equine Dentist also came out to Safe  Haven to take care of his teeth. Fonzie had several sores in his mouth and along his cheeks from the sharp points on his teeth. After having the points filed down by a process called floating, Fonzie’s mouth healed.

Fonzie was ready to be delivered to his new home 4 months after being rescued. Trina was there with loving, open arms to welcome him home. With the help of a riding instructor, Trina and Fonzie are now competing in the Special Olympic Rodeos. As you watch them work as a team you can see and feel the love and respect they have for each other. 

The latest accomplishments for this team has been at the Houston Rodeo. Together they received 4th place in barrels, 7th place in showmanship, and honorable mention in trails. However, the greatest accomplishment for them has been finding each other and sharing a love and admiration for each other that is as unique and wonderful as they are.

Fonzie arriving at his new home.

Sunshine in February of 2015.


Sunshine was rescued mid February 2015. She was starved, neglected, and pregnant. On March 31, 2015, she gave birth to a small, weak colt, named Rango. Rango was under developed due to his mother being starved and could not nurse. He could only stand a few minutes at a time. Safe Haven volunteers spent the day with Rango while waiting for the vet to arrive. Volunteers tried holding him up to nurse and even tried bottle feeding him, but he was too weak to eat. One volunteer was holding Rango when he stopped breathing. His will and a lot of rubbing from a volunteer got him breathing again. That afternoon was scary for all the volunteers at Safe Haven. Had Rango been born in the field Sunshine was rescued from, he would have been abandon by his mother or killed by the stallion also kept in that field


The vet came to the rescue with IVs and bags of plasma for Rango. Rango started to bounce back that night and by the next day was standing and nursing all by himself. Everyone at Safe Haven had huge smiles as we watched him play in the water for the first time at 2 days old. By the time he was 1 month old, he was filling out, a little nosey and loving a life he wouldn’t have if not for Safe Haven Equine Rescue.

Now at 2 years old, Rango has a loving family who will cherish him forever and Sunshine has found a forever home of her own.

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