Horse rescue becomes one woman’s mission
Danyea Logan-Young doesn’t sleep very well at night with images of starving horses floating in her mind. She thinks about how their bones distend under their skin until they are like walking rib cages and about the pain they must be in.
She started Hooves of Promise about two years ago to help save as many as possible with the help of her husband Dan Young and support from her two kids. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and training horses in need. The horses are housed at a 20-acre spread north of Arlee while Danyea works to find them new homes. She also utilizes the help of volunteers with her foster care program until a forever home can be found. She first started saving horses more than a decade ago. “I think I’ve re-homed 100 plus horses since 2003,” she said.
At her place, makeshift enclosures are set up to separate horses as they recuperate, a few are in the corrals next to the barn, and others are out in the pasture. She said her set up isn’t fancy, but she uses the resources she has to provide for the horses.
One of the most recent guests at the ranch is a small pony, small enough to be picked up and loaded into a trailer. Her name is CC Apple and when she got to the ranch her hooves were about a foot long and looked more like flippers. “She could hardly walk,” said Izzy Logan-Young. Izzy is Danyea’s 11-year-old daughter. She knelt down and lifted the tiny horse’s front hoof to see that it was trimmed and almost healed. “She is doing better now,” she said. Another pony, a bit taller, was in the same section of the corral as a companion to the smaller horse. A barn cat peeked in the corral while Izzy played with the small horses.
Not all of the horses Danyea rescues are in bad shape. She also rescues them from auctions. She said she sees horses with their tails braided, obviously loved by someone, and other horses standing proud, almost regal, which might be because they were once pampered racehorses.
“This is where they are sold to either a good person who will take them home and love them or taken to the kill pen where they will end up on someone’s dinner plate or as dog food,” she said. “It used to be only the sick and crippled horses went to the kill buyers. You could take your well-trained show horse or kid’s horse to sale and expect a private buyer to purchase them and care for them, but that isn’t how it is anymore. More horses are going to the kill buyers.”
Danyea said she understands how farms work. Cows and other animals are raised and slaughtered for human consumption or other purposes. Her problem is that horses are different. They are trained to work with humans and often develop a connection to people.
“You can’t teach an animal to be loved and cared for and then discard them,” she said. “You can’t throw these pampered ponies into a crappy corral and push them around and expect them to be okay.
They die scared and traumatized and that breaks my heart.”
Danyea works with the Pacific Northwest Feedlot Coalition to rescue slaughter-bound horses and help them find new homes. The coalition posts photos of horses and a few mules in the hopes that someone will take them home.
Danyea said she often drives to Washington to rescue horses before they are killed, but it’s an expensive project. The animals need a blood test, health certification, and brand inspection before they can be brought into Montana.
“I can’t take them all, but I wish I could, so I try to find foster homes for as many as I can,” she said. “I keep going because it’s hard to think about them ending up as someone’s dinner.”
Danyea has a few rescued horses she keeps, a couple waiting to go to their new homes, and others ready to be adopted (three at the moment). She welcomes volunteers to help care for the animals and accepts donations of anything from horse blankets to hay. Horses can also be sponsored to help with the costs of food and veterinary care. She welcomes new foster parents for rescued horses. She also has a book she is selling on Amazon called “When a Horse Calls” about a herd of abandoned horses she rescued. Proceeds from the book she said will go to her horse rescue program.
Danyea enjoys completing a new adoption and giving a horse a new home, but letting go of the horses is a little difficult. “I get attached,” she said. So, she has prospective adopters take a few riding lessons and verify that the horse will be going to a good place. She doesn’t want to risk having the horse end up with more problems because the new owners can’t handle it.
Danyea’s deep affection for horses started when she was a child. She got a chance to ride a pony at the Missoula fair and loved it. She grew up cleaning stalls at a racetrack and finding work involving horses. She became a professional trainer and still teaches people to ride. “I’ve fallen in love with these kind, majestic animals,” she said.
Danyea’s daughter, Izzy, is following her mother’s footsteps. She helps with the horses, loves riding them, and took on a rescue project of her own with a few goats. She keeps them in a pen next to the front yard of the house. She isn’t taking any new goats at the moment. The horse rescue program is keeping the Long-Young family busy enough.
Danyea plans to keep rescuing horses and developing Hooves of Promise as long as there are horses that need help. “I’m not sure how many people have looked into the eyes of a dying or terrified horse, but if you have any compassion, it knocks the wind out of you,” she said. “Thinking about that keeps me going, and I want to save as many as I can.”