We Love our Volunteers #365

Dave and DonnaA big  shout out for new volunteers Dave and Donna from Long Island, NY (and now Virginians) a classic NY pairing of Irish and Italian,  nurse and NYPD.  Not only spent a rainy and cool October day cleaning stalls, but also cleared out and redid the 10-stall feed room, brushed down the stalls and emptied the sawdust fro the truck.  A fine days work.  Thank you.

Feed Room

Feed Room

2014 Top Rated Award – Closes October 31st

Want to help the White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue get more donations? If you nominate us for a 2014    Top-Rated Award you could help us gain an online promotion worth $20,000, or a trip to the annual Technology for Social Good event in California to meet with potential donors.   Just write a new, positive review, either 4 or 5 star, and if we receive at least 10 new, positive reviews during the campaign period (January 1, 2014 to October 31, 2014) we will be Top-Rated for the year and will be eligible for prizes.

You can help the White Bird Rescue meet its goals, reach and help more horses, and get the attention it deserves!

Click herepastedGraphic

and type in “White Bird Appaloosa”.  Write a short review, give us a five/four star rating and help us win the 2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit!

Need Homes Now!

These horses need to find homes immediately. Their owner cannot care for them and as pasture is lost due to the impending cold weather, they will not have enough to eat or anyone to care for them. They are are unhandled, but are not wild or feral and will not be difficult to train.  They are young, sound and have no known medical conditions. They are respectful of people, with no kick or bite, but they are a little timid and will need a period of gentling. They need homes familiar with unhandled horses or trainers with this experience.  Rescues are (very) welcome, also.  All are being surrendered to White Bird and are located in Virginia, so if you can offer any of them a home, please contact the rescue directly at: whitebirdapps@gmail. com. Time is becoming critical with these horses, so please don’t wait and please share this information with anyone who might be able to provide a home.

Lacey Lacey is a brightly colored Appy mare. We aren’t even sure what to call this, she is just cool looking. She is about 14.1 hands and a sturdy girl, suitable for an adult rider. We believe she is 12 years old. As you can see, she is a little timid, but is not wild. It is possible that she has been exposed to a stallion and her adopter will need to consider that possibility, though at this time, we do not believe her to be bred.  She would make a really jazzy riding horse.  Personally, I’d like to see her tacked up with some rhinestony bling.



Orion2Orion is a black Appy cross gelding with a white blaze and two white socks. He is about 5-6 years old.  He is about 14.2-3 hands. Orion likes to jump! He will jump fences by himself, just for entertainment, and he has the substance and athleticism to do this on a more professional level. Orion is a little  timid, but has a naturally calm, curious personality and will be easy to train.  I could definitely see him in competition with either a child or adult rider.  In this photo, you can see that he needs a better diet and deworming, but those things are easy to fix.




Silver Tail1 Silver Tail is a 5-year old, dark blue roan Appy about 14.2-3 hands tall. I think this is my favorite Appy color and I’ve also heard this referred to as “blueberry.” As you can see in this photo, he can use a little dietary assistance and TLC.  But you can also see what a pretty boy he is.  Silver Tail is shy and likes to hide behind Orion. But we believe he will come around very quickly with a patient handler. He is gentle and respectful.




Peanut1 Peanut is a good-looking 12- yo bay gelding with a lot of potential. He is about 14.2 and looks like a well put-together Quarter/Welsh cross, though he is actually an Appaloosa cross.  He has good bone, is very athletic and looks like a little hunter prospect to us! Peanut was gelded late, so may have some lingering stallion characteristics, though he seems to have cooled off pretty well.  In the field, he will come right up to you, so he shouldn’t take long to train.

Urgent Mom-to-Be

Today, we have a mare in extremely urgent need and we need help in finding her a new home.

This special girl is an  “Honorary Appaloosa,” a breed designation that we award to a horse who merits attention on this site because he or she is (a) in dire straits, and (b) a nice horse deserving of the kindness of strangers. This girl is in deep trouble if help can’t be found for her. We are posting this on behalf of our good friends at Western Montana Equine Rescue, who are racing against the clock to get this mare to safety.  We are hoping that our western followers  will help out by either stepping up for her, or will share this information with someone who can.

Cameo Paints in Billings, Montana is having a dispersal sale and they don’t think anyone will want this girl. She is an eighteen-year old registered paint who is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other. The rescue reports that she seems very sweet and is possibly 4 months pregnant.  A young girl haltered her and picked up her feet, so she is a nice mare who is easy to handle. She was in with a bunch of other horses. The owners are trying to find her a home so they don’t have to take her to the auction. We do not think she will fare well there. If you know of anyone interested please have them call Tracy at 406-697-3520.

Paint1- JeffPaint2- Jeff







Planning for the Worst

Image 1 in In Memorium RodneyIn the last few decades, the products and services developed to keep our equine companions healthy and happy have vastly improved. As a result, horses are living longer than ever. At White Bird, we have several residents in their 30s and even 40s. But few of us know what twists and turns our lives are going to take over this long period of time. Suppose the unthinkable happens. Suppose you lose your job, your farm, or even your life. What will happen to your aging companion?

People with foresight and resources sometimes provide for their horses in their wills. These folks are doing the best thing possible for their equine friends and they are to be applauded for their good planning. But most of us don’t do that. Why? Because we just don’t believe anything bad is going to happen to us! And it might not take anything more than the loss of a good job or an illness to make caring for your horse impossible. If you have no friends or family willing to care for them, at some point someone will think to contact an equine rescue.

We get these kinds of calls frequently. “Owner died” or “serious owner health problem” are surprisingly common reasons for people to request our help. But all over the country, equine rescue groups struggle to make ends meet. The fact is, without support, they cannot be there for either you or your horses when you most need them.

Supporting your local rescue is an insurance policy. It ensures that if something happens to you, there is a healthy organization there to step in for your horses. Developing and maintaining a good relationship with your local rescue can be lifesaving if disaster strikes.

For your horses’ sake, we ask that you:

1. Make prior arrangements for your horses in case of your death.

2. Consider leaving a contribution to an equine rescue organization.

3. Donate regularly to your local rescue to keep it strong and functional.

4. Volunteer! This will also help other horses who may not be as lucky as yours.

The world is an uncertain place. That is part of its beauty. But if tragedy strikes, you will want to be sure that your horses remain safe and cared for.  Please support the rescues that will be there to help, when others cannot.

Top: Our beloved Rodney Dangerfield, who passed away in his mid 40s. Below: Oreo, also in his mid-40s, enjoys his retirement at White Bird.



International Award for White Bird

Cover 2Part of the Sparky Herd April 2014

We are and pleased and humbled to announce that White Bird has been awarded the GFAS 2014 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence for the Sparky Project, our ongoing large herd rescue project in northern Virginia.  This is a tremendous honor and we are grateful to the GFAS for this recognition.

This award is especially meaningful to us because, as a relatively small rescue, we sometimes struggle for resources and we are limited in the number of animals that we can take in. After all, we don’t want anyone to need to rescue them from us! When we were contacted about this herd, we knew we’d need to be very innovative in order to handle this large number of animals (and stallions!), especially as they were unhandled, many needed medical care and the site presented a number of challenges due to its large size, layout and topography, lack of fencing and occasional weather-related, impassible conditions. We also knew that we would need the support of the entire equine rescue community.

  And support we got! We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our fellow Virginia rescue organizations. We are fortunate to live in a state where the bar for rescues has been set so high. Some states have virtually no reliable organizations on which to draw.  Virginia has a wealth of rescues with many years of experience, and we are grateful to every one of you. We owe an equally large debt to the ASPCA, who unflinchingly granted us the funds to cover the substantial medical costs for this operation. Their generosity allowed us to concentrate on the rescue itself when the situation was urgent, rather than having to spend that time fundraising.  We thank the GFAS for helping us to get the word out about the need for assistance. We also appreciate our donors, who stepped up with hay and funding to help this effort succeed.

Last and most important, we’d like to thank our volunteers, trainers and fosters.  Simply stated, all organizations are made up of the people who actually do the work.  No catchy name, slogan or web site will ever take the place of the people who show up. These “boots on the ground” have worked many long hours in very stressful conditions to get these horses to safe havens.  And some do this every day, regardless of the time demands or weather, for only the satisfaction of knowing that  they are doing something important for horses who need their help. These folks are the lifeblood of any rescue, and they have been the lifeblood of the Sparky Project.

So, it gives us great pleasure to recognize the entire Sparky Project Team in receiving this Award.  You have literally been lifesavers.

 The Team

On Site Veterinary staff: Beth Eichberger, DVM, Ray Hyde, DVM, Hanina Hyde, EqDT

Loading and Transport: Chris Clendenin, Sam Jessee, Allie Sowden, Chyna Hudson-Berben, Mike Smith, Meredith Barlow, EqDT, Tina Gysin, JoAnne Miller, Sharon Hancock, Cindy Smith, Tom and Jorg Mayfield, Claudia Sadler

Site logistics and corrals: Chyna Hudson-Berben, Justin Berben, Mike Smith

Emergency Hay Donors: Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Paul Frappollo, Alice Chitwood

Gelding Team:  Ray Hyde, DVM, Hanina Hyde, EqDT, Beth Eichberger, DVM, Tom Mayfield, Mike Smith, Chyna Hudson-Berben, Chris Clendenin, Tina Gysin, Dustin Berben

Training and handling at WB: Allie Sowden, Tina Gysin, Claudia Sadler, Tom Mayfield

White Bird’s Sparky Project Fosters: Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Theresa Roark and Jamie and Wes Woodruff.

And the Assisting Rescues:  Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Brook Hill Farm Sanctuary, Blue Horse Mukwa, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Lily Pond Foal Rescue, Middleburg Humane Foundation and the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch of Murchison, Texas.

Victory for Victory- and some thoughts about stallions



Back in February, we posted regarding an 18-year old stallion named Victory who was in need of a home.  Today, we are pleased to report that Victory has indeed found his forever home. This is due largely to the efforts of a caring friend (not his original owner), who provides us with a great example of how to do a few basic things very well.  Our advice is as follows:

1. Be patient. Stallions can be hard to find good homes for. Note that we said “good” homes. Bad homes are a lot easier. Be in this for the long haul. Don’t get discouraged. Keep knocking on those doors.

Was a friendly stallion, now a friendly gelding needing a home.

Cherokee was a friendly stallion and is now a friendly gelding needing a home.

2 Cast a wide net. Talk to your friends, family, rescues, people in the breed clubs and industry and anyone else who might know someone who knows someone. Often reaching the right person is a matter of exposure, persistence and just blind, dumb luck.

3. Consider gelding your boy.  A nice stallion will make a nice gelding. A poorly handled stallion may be easier to train if he’s not busy checking out all the neighboring mares while you are trying to work with him. If your guy is very senior, you may want to check his testosterone levels before doing this.  He may not need to be gelded at all.

4. If he is not well-behaved, straighten him out! We’d give the owner of any horse the same advice, but given the trepidation that many people have about stallions, this is especially important. If you care about him, invest some time in training him. If this is outside of your skill level, find someone who can. The idea is to make him attractive to a new home and he won’t be if he is badly behaved.

Murphy in stallion mode, injured and preparing for combat

Murphy in stallion mode, injured and preparing for combat

Stallions are not all the fire-breathing, nail spitting dragons that people often believe them to be. If they are well-socialized and handled, they may differ from geldings only in their interest in the girls and their behavior in herds. Many are routinely ridden and continue to be good equine citizens. When considering adopting a stallion or a recent gelding, you will want to consider the individual. Is he disrespectful of people? Does he challenge other horses, especially geldings? Does he respect fences or is he the neighborhood Romeo?  He can be badly injured trying to cross barbed wire and your neighbors won’t appreciate his friendly visits. Most important: do you have mares that can be accidentally bred? If the answer to any of these is yes, you will make everyone’s lives easier by gelding him.

Murphy as a gelding, relaxed, happy and ready for a new home.

Murphy as a gelding, relaxed, happy and ready for a new home.

Most rescues will not adopt out intact boys.  This is because there are already too many homeless horses out there and frankly, we don’t really want to see some of these genes perpetuated, no matter how well the horses are pedigreed. The fact that these guys have all their parts does not entitle them to progeny.  But we often advertise intact horses for owners who can no longer keep them. And we are acutely aware of the fact that finding homes for stallions is difficult, due to some of the misconceptions that are out there. So we’d like to respectfully suggest that, before you turn away a horse needing a home simply because he is a stallion, take a second look at the individual. Many of these horses are good boys and solid citizens. If so, they will be good boys and solid citizens as geldings, for about what it costs for a month’s expenses.  Some seniors may not require gelding at all. Let’s give ’em a chance.



What a ride! This last month has been a busy one and we have lots of news to report.

Bus Stop

We are still working hard to treat, vaccinate, geld and rehome the horses of the Sparky Project. To-date, we have either rehomed or found available rescue space for 22 of the 41 horses on the farm. We are currently gelding stallions and this has gone very well, aided in no small part by the fact that these are sweet horses, unhandled or not. Available horses are being featured on our “Sparky Project” Facebook page, which we created specifically for the project.

We are deeply indebted to the wonderful folks at the ASPCA, who have ensured the success of this project through their generous grant.  We are also in complete awe of the other Virginia rescues who helped out by opening their doors to these horses- and we know darned well how full you already were. These include: Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses, Blue Horse Mukwa, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Lilly Pond Foal Rescue, the Middleburg Humane Foundation and also Crew and Cherokeeour wonderful rescue fosters, volunteers and the absolutely awesome transport drivers Sam and Chris. Special mention goes to Allie Sinclair, who will be working so hard to make these horses good equine citizens, and to Dr. Ray and Hanina Hyde, our talented feral horse veterinarians! The horse in this picture is fine, by the way and he is enjoying his new life as a gelding!

Last weekend was also one of our two annual hay-cutting events. We cut, baled and stacked about 800 bales, of the 2000 that we use annually. We’ll have a second cutting in the fall, so we are doing well so far. We owe part of this success to Jay Rupky and the kind donation of his standing hay.  We would also be remiss if we neglected to thank the fantastic Paul Frappollo, for his donated hay over the course of many years.Appy show photo

The ASPCA Help a Horse Day Benefit Horse Show was a resounding success! We are sincerely grateful to our Trainer Allie Sinclair and the many people who volunteered their time, their hard work, or even their leisure time, to come out and enjoy the beautiful weather and just play with us and our ponies!

This weekend, if you are in Virginia, you can visit the White Bird crew at Tractor Supply Stores in Farmville, Midlothian and Manassas, as we will be out to meet and greet! Please come by and say hello, and consider supporting our efforts to save horses in urgent need. Rescuing horses is truly a “village” effort and we could not do this without the support of many people. If you can’t come visit us, please consider making a donation through the “Donate” button on this page.  No donation is too small, and this is more important than you can imagine!


Bear: ca 1969 – May 2nd 2014

Bear and Girl



Bear 2008









It is with the greatest of sadness that we had to help Bear across the rainbow bridge this afternoon. This indefatigable little Appaloosa with the huge heart has made so many friends since he came to us in 1997.  At that time, his estimated age was 27.

Grandchildren have ridden him in from the paddock bareback, and if he had a soft spot for little girls  and mares, he had no love of other geldings.  Bear never knew he was a pony, and no male competitor was too big to take on. His early adulthood as a stallion gave him ownership views on any mares in his paddock. In a mixed herd, Bear just made everyone uncomfortable. He’d pick on the geldings and round up the mares, guarding them in a tight group.  For that reason and his failing eyesight, he spent his later years happily with one companion mare.

Bear came to us because a divorce situation resulted in him living in a mud lot with nothing to eat.  Emaciated and ill, he took some time to turn round. But recover he did – and with a vengeance.  He and his new “roommate” Sunny (a gelding) were never good companions.   As soon as he recovered, Bear began to needle Sunny mercilessly until the latter finally called a stop to it, and from then on they had to live in separate paddocks. Sunny passed away late last year, at the age of 30.

Always a favorite of visitors and volunteers, Bear leaves a huge hole in our lives and in the White Bird community.  We have no doubt that he and Sunny are reunited and perhaps age will have mellowed Bear a little, so they can enjoy the green grass of the Elysian Fields together. More likely, he is figuring out how to bite Sunny in the butt. See picture below.

Bear Chasing Sunny

Bear Chasing Sunny

White Bird Welcomes Cheyenne

CheyenneOn Friday, we welcomed our new resident, Cheyenne, to the rescue. Cheyenne was surrendered due to owner hardship, after having lived with this family for nine years. He was originally rescued from a situation of serious neglect and then rehabilitated. Cheyenne is a big, energetic guy in his early 20’s, with no known health issues. He is sweet and cares what you think, but is still a little anxious. He is saddle trained, but needs a tune-up and will be best suited for a confident rider who will develop a trusting relationship with him.