A fundraiser for WAG and Open starts today at 11 a.m. with an English and jumping fun show, followed Sunday with a Western Games show at Kari Payne’s 4-L arena off Blue Mountain Road, 95 S. McCrorie Road, Port Angeles. Fox-Bell Farm owner Shelby Vaughan and her assistants Sophie Feik and Kaia Lestage (holding Marley) will be there to host. Shown is Tatar Trots, 10, a horse Shelby got from OPEN five years ago when he was a feral, unhandled stallion and, now, after castrating and training, he’s a docile horse who enjoys teaching kids how to ride. Rescue dog Rocky lays nearby, soaking up the sun. (KAREN GRIFFITHS/FOR PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

A fundraiser for WAG and Open starts today at 11 a.m. with an English and jumping fun show, followed Sunday with a Western Games show at Kari Payne’s 4-L arena off Blue Mountain Road, 95 S. McCrorie Road, Port Angeles. Fox-Bell Farm owner Shelby Vaughan and her assistants Sophie Feik and Kaia Lestage (holding Marley) will be there to host. Shown is Tatar Trots, 10, a horse Shelby got from OPEN five years ago when he was a feral, unhandled stallion and, now, after castrating and training, he’s a docile horse who enjoys teaching kids how to ride. Rescue dog Rocky lays nearby, soaking up the sun. (KAREN GRIFFITHS/FOR PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

HORSEPLAY: Rescue program gives horses new life

SHELBY VAUGHAN WAS born into the rescue mindset. She grew up on Bainbridge Island on a farm where she said her mom was “huge into rescuing animals.”

When she was a youngster, she asked her mom if she could get a show horse to compete in jumping. “My mom said, ‘If you want to bring home a horse, then it needs to be a rescue. If you work to rehabilitate and retrain it, then I’ll do anything I can to help. I will drive the truck and trailer and take you wherever you need to go.’”

She bought an off-the track thoroughbred that was destined for a slaughter house (sadly, a common occurrence for the majority of race horses), retrained him and turned him into a hunter/jumper show horse. Of course, getting to that point took a lot of time, patience and energy. Naturally, there were times she longed to be competing at shows on one of those well-trained expensive horses with a fancy pedigree she saw so frequently among her peers — and who frequently stood in the winner’s circle.

Fast forward several years, and a few horses later, she recalled riding a rescue horse she’d gotten from a kill pen (a corral full of horses waiting to go to a slaughterhouse) in a big public arena. The horse was giving her a lot of trouble due to past experiences she had with people abusing her. A guy, who was riding a very fancy and stylish stallion he had imported from Europe, approached her on horseback.

“I remember him saying something along the lines like, “Shelby, if you ever want to get anywhere in this business, you got to stop wasting your time on piece of s—t horses, versus one of these,’” and he made a sweeping motion over his horse.

“His attitude just made me so angry, because I didn’t look at my rescues that way,” she said. “So, it set me clear on my life’s path; what I wanted more than anything was to see rescue horses get a second shot.”

After years of following her passion for rehabbing those horses, she’s built up a solid network of helpers and professionals — including veterinarians and farriers — to get those horses on the track to living happy, healthy lives as good riding horses who seem to appreciate their changed lives.

All that rehabbing cost money, which is why, Shelby said, “I work hard seven days a week to pay for the care these horses need.”

Currently, her rescue program is privately funded. But, as the costs of horse care and feed have skyrocketed, so has the number of horses needing help. Thus, she’s looking into becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Helping local organizations that rescue animals is also important to her. So, once again, she’s partnered with 4-L Arena owner Kari Payne to host a horse jumping and gaming show with proceeds being split between Welfare for Animals Guild (WAG) and Olympic Peninsula Equine Network (OPEN).

It is a pre-event show to help riders get ready for the duo’s second annual fundraiser to be held later this summer.

Today begins at 11 a.m. with English riding and jumping events, including trot poles, cross rails and jumps up to 2-feet, 6 inches, hosted by Fox-Bell Farm. Entry fee is $100 for all of Saturday’s events.

Sunday, starting at 4 p.m., the Western games events will be held, including Cal Stake, Pole Turn, Half Eight, Four Leaf Clover, Tarp Alley and Barrels. Entry fee is $45.

Beginner, novice and advanced riders are all welcome, and spectators are encouraged. There will be raffle tickets and day awards for all participants. Located at 4L Arena, 95 S. McCrorie Road, Port Angeles. Contact Shelby at 206-399-7683 or Kari at 503-789-4247.

Like her mother, Shelby’s helping animals includes championing for dogs in need, saying as the costs of caring for dogs has risen, so has the number of dogs who are abandoned. “Shelters are full, and people are just turning their dogs loose. It’s been really hard to see.”

To help combat the problem, Fox-Well is offering its first low-cost spay and neuter clinic for dogs and cats. They are funding one day and are hoping to get donations from the public to fund a second day.

“This is out of our own pockets, because it’s a cause we strongly believe in,” she said. “For example, my mom just took in more feral cats to get spayed and neutered. Making sure these feral cats are getting caught, trapped, spayed and neutered goes a long way into helping to stop this vicious cycle of too many unwanted animals wandering around.”

A GoFundMe for the low-cost spay and neuter clinic is up on Fox-Well Farm’s Facebook page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-foxbells-spay-and-neuter clinic.

Fox-Bell Farm offers boarding, training, lessons, horse shows, camps, clinics and parties. This summer, the farm is offering another youth camp. Dates to be announced.

Profits from all Fox-Bell services go back to helping horses in need. Located at 136 Finn Hall Road in Agnew. Phone 206-399-7683.

Events

• Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is a Share the Trail Event hosted by BCH Mt. Olympus Chapter and Peninsula Trails Coalition at the Dan Kelly parking lot for the Olympic Adventure Trail. Horse riders, bicyclists, hikers, runners and dog walkers can meet in a fun and safe environment to say hello and provide their ideas about how best to interact on the trail. The Mt. Olympus Chapter will have “Leave No Trace” information and activities for kids. Representatives from PTC, DNR and ONP will be on hand with trail information.

Mt. Olympus Chapter will also have horses and ponies for the public to meet and pet. Come to visit with other trail users and head out on the Olympic Adventure Trail. Questions? Text Jan at 408-529-1210.

• Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2, 10 a.m., PSHA game show at Crosby’s arena, 122 Franson Road in Agnew. For more information, call 360-670-3906 or visit www.patterned speedhorse.com.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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