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Many horses are in need of care or rescue. Tracy recommends you contact the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, Second Stride,  or the Kentucky Humane Society.

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Providing a forever home for a rescue animal usually means adopting a cuddly kitten or a playful puppy. When Tracy Harvill decided she wanted a pet, her sights were set on a creature much larger than a tabby cat or tiny lap dog. Her heart was set on adopting a horse. Tracy had dreamed of having a horse since she was a child, but knew she needed to wait until the right circumstances, and her finances, were in place.

In early 2017, her beloved Great Dane passed away. “I only had her for two years. It was very sudden. I woke up one morning and she was fine, and by the end of the day she was gone,” Tracy  says. She fell into a deep depression and even sought counseling. 

“I didn’t know what direction I was going in and that’s when I started thinking about getting  a horse.”

She researched various web sites and eventually found the horse she wanted — located 700 miles away in New York. Tracy read his story and learned that he had been a rescue, was terribly underweight, and had been taken in by a place called Payne Farm Too. “He was near starvation,’ Tracy says. “They thought he looked just like a dinosaur, hence the name ‘Littlefoot,’ the name of one of the characters from the animated series The Land Before Time.”

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Tracy decided to check into other horses but nothing came of it. Towards the end of 2017, she and a friend scheduled a vacation to Mexico, and after discovering Littlefoot, was still available, she decided to re-route her return flight and head to New York. “I flew in, saw him, and I bought him on sight,” she says.

Tracy and Littlefoot have been a team for nearly 14 months now, and she’s worked with him to improve his health. He’s a big animal, bay colored with a black mane, tail, and hooves. He’s part draft horse standing 17.1 hands high and now weighs approximately 1,500 pounds.

She enjoys working with him and training him by using a positive reinforcement method, or the ‘clicker’ method, which is generally used on dogs. Tracy had also trained other animals, specifically marine mammals, gaining her experience at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland.

I started out with Littlefoot using the clicker, then transitioned to a tongue cluck,” she explains. “I work with him a lot on what’s called ‘at liberty’ meaning he doesn’t wear a halter or a lead rope. He has free access.

In the end, the match between owner and pet was what they both needed. “The initial two or three months I had him helped make me feel back to normal,” she says. “Having this new amazing animal who depended on me and trusted me helped me to take those steps to recover. If it weren’t for him, my life wouldn’t feel as complete as it does now.”

Check some of our latest posts about the pets we love by clicking here and find out what makes this relationship between a horse and its owner awesome. 


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