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The Bluebonnet Horse Expo and Training Challenge is changing the lives of Horses throughout Texas

photo by Chelsea Croissant Photography
Photo by Chelsea Croissant Photography

The Bluebonnet Horse Expo and Training Challenge is an annual event that aims to promote the adoption of rescued horses and showcase their abilities through various competitions and exhibitions. 


The event is organized by Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes horses in need. 


The Expo features a wide range of activities and events, including educational clinics, equine demonstrations, silent auctions, and a horse training competition. 


The Training Challenge is the main attraction of the event, where professional trainers are paired with rescued horses to showcase their progress over a period of months. The Training Challenge culminates in a final competition, where the trainers demonstrate the skills and abilities, they have taught their horses, with the aim of finding them permanent homes. 


photo by Chelsea Croissant Photography
Photo by Chelsea Croissant Photography

The following horses’ success stories are a testament to the incredible work done by Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society.


Meet Willow Grace, a buckskin mare who won the Bluebonnet Training Challenge last year.


Willow Grace
Willow Grace

In 2021, The Houston SPCA found Willow Grace in need of rescue. 

She was not halter broke when they got her, so they worked with her and then transferred her to the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society for further training and adoption. She's a gentle and friendly horse who isn't fazed by her caretaker’s presence when it's time for some love and photos.


In March 2022, her trainer, Nicole, evaluated Willow Grace and found she was good to work with on the ground, but she needed further training under saddle. Willow Grace was enrolled in the Professional Division of the 2022 Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge and had spent several months with Nicole preparing for the Challenge. 


Deanne, Willow Grace, and Nicole at the 2022 Training Challenge
Deanne, Willow Grace, & Nicole

On October 8th, 2022, Willow Grace competed in the Bluebonnet Training Challenge and was crowned a winner! Willow Grace not only won the Training Challenge, but she also won the heart of Deanne, who adopted her that very same day.


Deanne said, "From the moment I met Willow Grace, she and I have shared a very special bond and understanding of each other. There is nothing Willow will not try and when she is presented with a challenge, her love and willingness to work through it and work even harder, is such an inspiration to me. Her sweet eyes and cutest little face ever, melts my heart every time! Willow has been such a wonderful blessing in my life, and she will forever be my 'Pretty Girl.' "






Meet Benji, a Thoroughbred gelding who was adopted by his Challenge trainer last year.


Neil and Benji
Neil and Benji

 In 2021, Benji was donated to Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society when his owner could no longer care for him. Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society did not have much information on Benji before he arrived, but it appeared that he had been ridden before. He was quickly adopted by a loving owner who met him at his foster home. Unfortunately, Benji's energy proved to be too much for her, so she returned him to Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in February 2022. 


Benji
Benji

Benji was enrolled in the Professional Division of the 2022 Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge and had spent several months with his trainer, Neil, preparing for the Challenge. Neil said, “Benji is a joy to work with. He has awesome ground manners, picks up his feet, and he meets you at the gate. Kids can handle him, I let my 9-year-old lunge him, and he even rides under supervision.” 


On October 8th, 2022, Benji competed in the Bluebonnet Training Challenge, and although he lost the competition, he won the heart of his trainer. Neil fell in love with Benji and adopted him. Neil said, “Although we didn’t win the training challenge, I got to take Benji home, and that was a win for me.”


Neil and Benji’s winning ribbons at a local show
Neil and Benji’s winning ribbons at a local show

Meet Nomad, a pinto gelding who was adopted at last year’s Rescue Horse Training Challenge.


Nomad, who now goes by Alvarez
Nomad, who now goes by Alvarez

In 2021, Nomad was placed with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society by the Houston Humane Society after being removed from negligent owners. Nothing was known of his history before he was removed from his former owners.


In 2022, Nomad was enrolled in the Professional Division of the Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge had spent four months with his trainer, Tracy, 

to prepare for the Training Challenge. 

Tracy said, “When he first got there, he was pushy and easily startled, but she worked on his ground manners, and he’s now good for her and her 11-year-old son to handle.” She started him under saddle and had ridden him western at a walk, trot, and canter both in arenas and out in open fields. 

She hauled him to other arenas for more experience, ridden him on trails, and taught him to navigate obstacles.


On October 8th, 2022, Nomad competed in the Bluebonnet Training Challenge, and won the heart of Liane who adopted him that day. 


Liane and Alvarez
Liane and Alvarez

Nomad has a new name; he now goes by Alvarez a

nd is living his best life with Liane. After adopting Nomad, Liane said, “I cannot tell you how excited I am to be Nomad's new home. He is wonderful. I’m so in love with him. We are entered in a clinic next weekend to begin our training together and hopefully develop a wonderful relationship. 

I posted on Facebook that this is the culmination of a 50 year dream. My grandfather introduced me to horses. His name was Al. We rode together every chance we had. He bought me my first saddle and first cowboy hat. He passed away many years ago, but the dream never died. I knew one day I would have a horse (or 2 or 3) of my own. My husband and I bought 10 acres about 4 years ago for this purpose. Saturday, my dream became reality. All my animals have musical names. I told my grandmother before she died a year ago that I was going to name my first horse Alvarez (a brand of guitars) and would call him Al. So, Nomad is now officially Alvarez (Al) in honor of my grandfather and the heritage he gave me.”



Meet TexAnn, a Quarter Horse mare who was adopted at last year’s Rescue Horse Training Challenge.


TexAnn
TexAnn

In 2022, TexAnn was surrendered to law enforcement and then placed with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. 


TexAnn was enrolled in the Professional Division of the Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge. TexAnn had spent the summer of 2022 with a teen rider who found that she’s great to handle on the ground: good to catch, lead, load in a trailer, stand for the farrier, bathe, and clip. Her rider has ridden her at the walk, trot, and canter in arenas, open fields, and on trails. They’ve ridden over obstacles and gone to shows and playdays, 

and TexAnn takes it all in stride!


On October 8th, 2022, TexAnn competed in the Bluebonnet Training Challenge, and was adopted that day by Kristal.


Kristal and TexAnn last Christmas
Kristal and TexAnn last Christmas

Kristal said, “TexAnn, our peppermint loving, dress up for the kids, and whole heart giving, girl! She gives 110% of herself to her humans. Rescue horses may take a while to trust, but once they do it’s a connection like no other! We so love her, and all of our Bluebonnet Rescue Horses!”









Cristal adopted Polo, Lakota, and Crimson-Scarlett from Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society.



In 2021, Polo was donated to Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society by his owner, who could no longer care for him. Polo has Cushings, but it is controlled with medication and diet. This handsome fellow was a former lead-line pony at a boy’s camp. His donor reported that he was rock solid when it comes to trails. He does it all water crossing, bridges, traffic, willing to ride alone or in a group...etc. He is extremely social but docile and herd bound. 

He's a "middle of the herd" guy.


Polo competed in the Training Challenge, and placed 3rd in the Freestyle competition, 5th in the Basic Skills competition, and 4th for the Non-Pro In-Hand 12 and Under Division of the 2022 Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge.


Polo also won Cristal’s heart and she adopted him in November 2022.


In 2017, Lakota was placed with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society by animal control after she was removed from negligent owners. Her foster home quickly fell in love with her and adopted her. Unfortunately, they returned her a few years later due to their health. It has been noted that Lakota's may have some vision loss in one eye. She might spook if she is unaware of someone approaching her, but it has not caused any issues with her being handled and when under saddle.


A youth rider worked with Lakota to prepare her for the 2021 Bluebonnet Training Challenge.

In October 2021, Lakota attended the Bluebonnet Horse Expo and caught the eye of Cristal, who adopted her.


In August 2022, Shandy, now named Crimson-Scarlett, was removed from her owners by law enforcement and placed with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. Nothing was known of her history before she was removed from her owners.


Shandy's foster home began working with her once she was healthy and said she was great to saddle and bridle. In October 2022, she attended the Bluebonnet Horse Expo and was evaluated by a trainer.


In March 2023, Crimson-Scarlett was adopted by Cristal.


Polo, Lakota, and Crimson-Scarlett are living their best life, spoiled with love by Cristal’s daughters.  She said, “They really are such a special gift.”



Arrowhead, Latifa, Indy, and James were adopted by Brittany and her boarder, Anne.



In 2020, Arrowhead was donated to Bluebonnet when his owner could no longer care for him. He has no known health or lameness issues.


Arrowhead was training to compete in the Non-Pro Under Saddle division of the 2021 Spring Challenge, but before that could happen his trainer, Frank, fell in love with him while working with him and adopted him. Arrowhead was returned to Bluebonnet in December 2021. He said, “Arrowhead does not like arena work and will spook at loud noises. He prefers trail riding and needs a confident rider.”


In August 2022, Arrowhead was in training for the Fall 2022 Training Challenge when his trainer, Brittany, fell in love with him and adopted him before the challenge. 


Arrowhead
Arrowhead

Brittany said, “I like to adopt the challenge type horses. Arrow was a big challenge. Hated arenas. Liked to go not stop. Never thought I would feel safe 

to put my own son on him. Now my kid can ride him anytime without me even being worried.”


Latifa
Latifa

In 2021, The Houston SPCA took in Latifa after a law enforcement seizure, and then transferred her to Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. There was no information about her earlier years, except for photos indicating she suffered from malnutrition prior to her rescue.


Initially, Latifa was shy and reluctant to be caught. Her initial foster home spent time working with her, and she’s now easy to catch and lead. She spent time with a trainer in the summer of 2022 and they focused on ground work. She’s learned to carry a saddle, stand tied, stand for baths. She’s fine out with other horses or mules.


In October 2021, Latifa attended the 2022 Fall Training Challenge Expo and was adopted by Brittany. 


Brittany said, “Latifa wasn't broke when I adopted her from the show at the Bluebonnet Horse Expo. However, she is now broke to ride and being rode by my boarder kids at barn. They adore her.”


Indy
Indy

In July 2022, Indy and her herd-mate were found staked out on the side of the road with no food or water. Law enforcement picked them up and placed them with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. Indy was underweight and in need of deworming, farrier care, and routine veterinary care when she arrived. She has scarring over her hindquarters that her vet feels are from burns. They do not seem to bother her.


Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society didn’t know what Indy’s previous life was like, but they suspect she was ridden at one point. She went to a trainer for a few weeks of evaluation in late September. The trainer has her line driving, lunging with a saddle and bridle, and working on the ground. She started riding her and said Indy bucked the first time she rode her, but it felt like a horse who was rusty and figuring things out. She improved with riding time and should keep on improving. 


In October 2022, Indy attended the Fall Training Challenge Expo and was adopted by Anne.


James
James

James had a rough start to his life. In 2021, He came to Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society at just five months old, and he was underweight. His dam was emaciated, so we had to wean him right away. Fortunately, he quickly gained weight and blossomed.


James was not halter broke when he arrived at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. His foster home taught him to be caught, lead, and have his feet handled and trimmed. He then went to a non pro to prepare for the In Hand division of the 2022 Training Challenge. His Challenge partner taught him to lunge, work obstacles in hand, and carry a saddle.


James
James

In October 2022, James competed in the In-Hand of the Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge and was adopted by Anne the same day.





















These horses’ stories are just a small part of the huge impact that is made by Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society.


Here are some interesting facts about rescue horses and Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society:


  • Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2005 with a mission to improve the lives of horses in Texas. Since its inception, the organization has been making a significant impact in the equine community by providing care, and rehabilitation to horses in need.


  • Many rescue horses have had difficult pasts and require special care and training. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to help these horses recover from their trauma and learn to trust humans again.


  • Halter breaking is a crucial part of a horse's training that involves teaching them to accept a halter and lead rope, which are necessary tools for handling and leading the horse. It can be a challenging process for rescue horses who may have never been handled before.


  • The Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge is an annual event that showcases the skills and abilities of rescue horses who have been trained and rehabilitated by Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. The horses compete in various categories, including in-hand, under saddle, and freestyle, and are judged on their performance and behavior.


  • Willow Grace's win at the Bluebonnet Training Challenge is a testament to her resilience and the hard work of the trainers and volunteers who helped her along the way. It is also a reminder of the importance of equine rescue and the incredible potential of rescue horses when given a second chance.



In loving memory of Bangle, a 2022 Bluebonnet Training Challenge horse who was adopted but sadly passed away after losing his battle with cancer.

Bangle
Bangle
Bangle
Bangle


To learn more about Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, please visit www.bluebonnetequine.org.


Horses will be available for adoption at the Bluebonnet Horse Expo and Training Challenge on October 7th, 2023, at the Williamson County Expo Center in Taylor, Texas.


You can find information about adopting a training challenge horse here: bluebonnethorseexpo.com/blog/challenge/adopt-a-training-challenge-horse/


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