Sophie’s Story: The Healing of Horses and Hearts

K2 Equestrian Center

This image of Sophie has become the logo for K2 Equestrian Ranch…The Spirit of the Healing Horse.

When we made the decision to open the K2 Equestrian Center and provide equine assisted growth and learning, we wanted it to be a place of safety and rescue for all living things. We had been actively participating in horse rescues for several years; keeping some of the horses we rescued, and finding quality homes for others.

One rescue was particularly disturbing for us.  The information we received stated that multiple horses had been abused and starved.  Horse rescues can be dangerous and one really never knows what they are getting into when a call for a rescue comes in.

With our trailer in tow, we arrived at a ranch where the horses were being kept. It was clearly visible that the horses had not been fed for quite a while; and several of them had whip marks on their flanks.  One horse had an old halter so tangled in its mane that it had to be cut out.  We had already made a vet appointment for the next day to have the horses examined, but as we loaded the horses on to the trailer, it was obvious that one horse was very ill.  One mare had explosive diarrhea and was showing signs of being dehydrated. We called our vet, Dr. Bob, who suggested we get her to his clinic  immediately.

The mare was a beautiful, caramel-colored, Palomino quarter horse, with white blaze down her nose and the longest eyelashes. My son thought she was incredibly beautiful and had already fallen in love with her. Even with the deep wounds on her body, she was gentle and receptive to our touch. On the way to the clinic our boys named her “Sophie.” I knew we had crossed the line in naming her and we were now committed to keep her.

When we arrived at the clinic, I didn’t like the look is saw on our veterinarian’s face.  Dr. Bob was concerned and worried.  As he did his exam, he continued to look up at me,  but never utter a word. My youngest son was standing next to Sophie, petting her head. He looked up and said, “Please save her.” Bob looked over and walked me out of the stall.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said. “She is extremely sick, undernourished and dehydrated. It will be a miracle if she makes it through the night.”

“We have to try to save her, I know she’s not ready to die,” I responded to him.

K2 Equestrian Center Horses | Sophie's Story

Sophie loves kids and loves getting pets.

The vet said that her treatment would have to be aggressive and that her recovery could take a long time.  Deep in my heart I felt that she was going to live and I didn’t care what we had to do to help her survive. The look in her eyes told me she wanted to live and be part of our family. After two hours at the vet clinic and giving her lots of love, we left. I knew that we would see her again.

The phone rang at 6 am the next morning  — my heart stopped when it rang. It was Dr. Bob, but his voice was upbeat and the news was good! Sophie had made it through the night.  The diarrhea had stopped, she was still on I.V. fluids, but she wasn’t so lethargic. While she wasn’t out of the woods, he was encouraged.  She had to stay at the clinic for several days and we went to visit her everyday. I wanted to bond with her and let her know that she was safe and loved.

The other horses remained at our ranch and we treated their wounds and fed them supplements to get their weight up. All of the horses had to be de-wormed, but were generally in good health considering their weights.

It was several days before we were able to bring Sophie home. We were told that it would be a long journey for her; that she would require a lot of time and many extra feedings. At the time of the horse rescue we were working with a group of women at the ranch, who were in recovery from domestic violence. These ladies were part of our equine assisted learning group.

K2 Equestrian Center Horses | Sophie's Story

Sophie is healthy, strong and beautiful!

They all thought Sophie was gorgeous. These women, who had been through horrific trauma in their own lives, wanted to help this wonderful horse. They knew that she had to be fed every two hours and knew that my husband, Keith, and I were teachers and could not be at home during the day.  So, they made a schedule among themselves and came to the ranch every day at 10 am, 12 noon and 2 pm,  to feed and love on Sophie.

The women were fabulous! They fed her and groomed her.  In addition to helping heal Sophie, it also helped them to heal, build confidence and self-esteem. Both the ladies and Sophie thrived. It was an amazing end to a horrendous beginning.

Today, Sophie is beautiful, healthy and strong. She is the showcase to our ranch and logo. She knows she is safe and is in a place that will never let anything awful happen to her again.

As for the women who helped her survive, they are all doing well. They have picked up their lives and moved on. Several of them still come out to the ranch to continue our friendship and love on the horse.


  1. That’s awesome that you’re connecting horses and people to help them recover! Since you work with domestic violence survivors, you might want to check out the Document the Abuse website, which showcases the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA),, an extremely important tool for them.

  2. Thank you for that information. We appericiate any way we can help

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