By: Alexis Arbaugh
After a year of healing from the heartbreak of putting her 29-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred down, Michele was ready to get back out there and find her forever horse. Michele, having known Sara Ruggerone, the Equine Care Manager at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and Rescue, for years, felt that it would be the perfect place to begin her search. Their connection went back to the time when they both boarded their horses at the same facility where they first met. Having known each other for so long they knew a lot about each other’s riding styles, skills, and limitations with horses.
Michele turned in an adoption application and got approval right away. Eager to meet her potential forever horse, she visited Redwings Horse Sanctuary and Rescue to meet Hustling Hank, the horse that Sara believed would be a fitting match for Michele.
Hustling Hank was a large, unmarked dark bay gelding. “It was love at first sight,” wrote Michele. Michele was so attracted to Hank that she would have taken him home that very day. However, Sara advised her to adhere to Redwings’ adoption process, to ensure a smooth transition for both Michele and Hank.
Michele agreed to follow the adoption process. She began spending several days a week riding and bonding with Hank at Redwings. As the comfort and compatibility between Michele and Hank grew evident to both Michele and the Redwings employees, the decision was made for Michele to bring Hank home.
Despite being much younger than any of Michele’s previous horses, Hank’s mellow personality contradicted his age. He turned out to be the perfect goofy and quirky “youngster” that Michele needed, especially after the loss of her older OTTB. Hank’s kind eyes and Labrador Retriever-like climb into your lap atitude embodied everything Michele could have hoped for in her new horse.
Hank couldn’t be happier in his new home! He has made friends with his neighbor Willis and loves the 5 goats that live on the other side of the fence. With Michele by his side, Hank is set to enjoy a life filled with happiness and free from stress.
In terms of riding, Michele and Hank clicked right from the beginning, making everything seem easy and straightforward. Their focus currently lies on basic flatwork, with an emphasis on staying relaxed and balanced. While Michele has plans to introduce collection in the future, she’s in no rush. As unfazed and chill as Hank, he proves to be the perfect companion for rides anywhere.
Michele has shifted her focus away from structured training programs and show days, choosing to prioritize her evolving partnership with Hank. While she aims to maintain their skills for potential clinic attendance, her primary goal is to explore trails and the beach with her newfound best friend. Michele’s journey with Hank centers around the joy of shared experiences and the simple pleasures of forging a deep connection and love.
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