"We are really grateful to have had an opportunity to be in Huntington Beach," she said. "We've been able to really garner the support of the community. You hear a lot of people talk about the horses, and they say, 'our horses, our horses.' I think we've become a big part of the community, and so have the horses."
Peirce said her group bought the land from a private owner. She would not say how much the property cost, but said donations from Orange County residents had covered the down payment. A business on the property, which will pay rent to Red Bucket, will also contribute income.
Even still, the nonprofit will need a steady flow of donations to stay afloat. In addition to fundraisers and horse shows, Red Bucket plans to offer a program in which individuals or groups can sponsor a horse for $600 a month. One of the incentives: a trading card featuring the horse's picture, vital statistics and personality traits, plus monthly updates on its condition.
At one of those shows, Peirce hopes to introduce Finbar before the crowd. The former stallion, who is now a gelding after being castrated, has trained steadily at jumping fences. Furthermore, his brawny physique could show the audience how much a rescue service can do for an animal who once looked a step away from death.
But even if Finbar doesn't become a performing star, Peirce is proud of her bond with him. And at times like Thursday morning, when he fought to stay at the home she created for him, she knows that the feeling is returned.
"When you save a horse and you're with them every day, they know," she said. "They're grateful."