In 2014 part-bred thoroughbred Hope was abandoned and “left for dead” at six months old, with a body score of one out of five. Having been nursed back to health by the RSPCA, the mare remained in the charity’s six years later, and an appeal was launched to find her a home. In October 2019 she was spotted online by West Yorkshire-based Lauren Barker.
Lauren, 31, who is studying towards becoming a veterinary nurse, told H&H she knew Hope was “the one” when she saw her on the RSPCA’s website.
“I’d really missed being around horses and when I stumbled across Hope it was love at first sight,” she said.
“Just her picture had me, but then when I read her profile and what she’d been through I filled up.”
Lauren, who suffers with epilepsy, said she had reservations at first as she was not working at the time.
“I wondered what my family might think because at the time; because of my medical conditions I was struggling to find work. I kept thinking “Is it realistic to get a horse just now?” but I couldn’t stop thinking about her,” she said.
“I told my mum, Gina, who supported my decision and it went from there and I made the enquiries.”
Lauren started the adoption process at the end of 2019, but owing to the pandemic the process was delayed.
“I kept reading more about Hope online, and saw the Horse & Hound story, and I just couldn’t wait to meet her,” said Lauren.
“In July I made the three and a half-hour journey to the RSPCA Southridge centre and met her for the first time. She was in a stable on the yard, when she popped her head out my heart melted. She had had a vet check and the farrier that morning so at first she seemed a bit unsure about me but then she warmed to me and put her head on my shoulder.”
Lauren visited Hope for a second time in August, and on 12 September the mare joined Lauren in West Yorkshire.
“I couldn’t sleep the night before and the day of her arrival it felt like Christmas morning,” said Lauren.
“I was so surprised at how quickly she settled. She is in the field with some friends’ horses and she’s just besotted with them. During the first week when someone said ‘your horse’ it felt so surreal thinking ‘I’ve got a horse!’ but now it feels like we’ve been together for ever.”
Lauren said finding Hope feels like “fate”.
“One of the triggers of my epilepsy can be stress but having Hope helps with my anxiety,” said Lauren.
“If any horse deserved a second chance it was Hope after what she went through. I think she realises she’s in her for-ever home, it’s so rewarding rehoming a horse – but I’m most grateful to Hope for how she’s made me feel.”
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Anna White, RSPCA Southridge centre manager, said the charity “could not be happier” that Hope has found her home with Lauren.
“She is one of the most special rescue horses we have ever known and she really deserves this wonderful, happy ending. Over the years we have looked after her, all the staff have come to love her and bond with her and although it’s sad to see her leave our yard, we always held out ‘hope’ that her ideal home would come along. We will miss her terribly, but we are over the moon that she’s finally starting her new life,” she said.
“If Hope and Lauren’s story has inspired you to consider rehoming a rescue horse, we would love to hear from you. We have hundreds in our care, with hundreds more expected to need our help desperately over this winter.”
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