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Rescued horses find new home

Horses from Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Huntington Beach head to new facility in Chino Hills. One horse was harder to get there than others.

June 14, 2012|By Michael Miller

The trailer had arrived to take Finbar away from his home of the last three years, the place where he arrived scared and starving and gradually regained his health, his energy and 400 pounds.

And for the moment, the horse wasn't budging.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a happy day for Finbar — probably the happiest in many months. He and dozens of other horses would soon depart their stalls at the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center and arrive at Red Bucket Equine Rescue's new sanctuary at a ranch in Chino Hills, which it had acquired two weeks ago after months of uncertainty.

But Finbar didn't seem to share the excitement as his handlers tried to maneuver him into the back of the vehicle Thursday morning. For nearly half an hour, a handful of Red Bucket volunteers and two professional loaders tried to perform a basic task: get the horse to walk into the trailer and stand still long enough to be tied to the wall.

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That proved to be no small hurdle. With a rope attached to his muzzle and canvas shipping boots to protect his legs, Finbar froze, tried to run and sometimes fled backward after the handlers coaxed him in.

Red Bucket President Susan Peirce, who has adopted Finbar and is having him trained as a show horse, could understand the reason for his panic.

"These horses have never gone anywhere," she said. "When he came, he was starving. Now he weighs 1,200 pounds. This is their safety, here at the equestrian center."

One handler stood in front and held the rope; another trailed Finbar with a whip, which he used to lash the ground and occasionally tap the horse's legs and rear. On the third try, they held and tied him inside the trailer; two more horses followed, and the walls shook repeatedly as Finbar banged against them.

Finally, head trainer Kimberly Fohrman tied all three horses and ducked through what Peirce called the suicide door — the small opening at the back of the trailer just big enough for a human to fit through, not to mention an escape from serious injury when the animals thrash around.

Fohrman leaped in the pickup truck hitched to the trailer and drove down the dirt path behind the equestrian center stalls. Three more horses were on their way to Chino Hills, and the nonprofit had roughly two dozen more to ship by Saturday. But the loaders may have just packed in the hardest one.

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'Clearly the dominant horse'

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