Local photographer focuses on unwanted horses
Rescued to Ride ramps up with presentation, summer events
Steamboat Springs — In the faces of the horses she photographs, local horseperson and ranch photographer Diane Panetta sees an unwavering purity and honesty.
“Their expressions — it’s just so rare to find,” she said. “They’re simple and honest, and I could look at them all day.”
But in those honest expressions she sometimes sees stories of pain, neglect and abuse. The thought of unwanted horses is something Panetta couldn’t stand to not act on, so a year ago, she launched Rescued to Ride, a nonprofit organization that partners with horse trainers to give rescued horses a second chance.
This summer, the organization will offer an open training event so the public can watch as Rescued to Ride trainers work with neglected or abused horses that have been taken in by regional horse rescues.
“Our goal is to supplement training to rescue horses so they can become more adoptable, get seen by more people and give positive exposure to these horse rescues,” Panetta said.
In addition, Panetta will offer a talk tonight at Harwigs/L’Apogee alongside local veterinarian Courtney Diehl.
Diehl, who is on the Rescued to Ride board, has seen the local impact of the unwanted horse issue in the neglect cases she works on.
“What ends up happening is a lot of horses that have behavior issues sit in these rescues and go nowhere,” she said. Rescued to Ride “provides a pretty viable solution for the horses that are surrendered because of training issues.”
She said hosting public events such as open training sessions in July help provide the public with a greater understanding of the issue and outcomes of unwanted and neglected horses.
“You can bring them in and make them aware of the scope of the problem and the sheer number of horses that are really coming from our own backyard,” she said. “People always think problems like these are in another state and in other counties.”
At tonight’s event, Diehl and Panetta will give a casual presentation about the reality of unwanted horses — of which there are 6,000 every year in Colorado.
The presentation will take place under the honest stares of several horses that Panetta has recently photographed, closing out her month-long art show at Harwigs.
So far this year, Rescued to Ride has worked with 20 horses at events such as the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver and a similar event in Cortez in early spring.
In each of those three-day sessions, Panetta said she could see the horses becoming more comfortable around people and more secure under a saddle as trainers Scott Whinfrey and Jason Patrick started from the ground up.
“You can see the places that a horse can go with its life,” she said.
She said four of those horses have since been adopted.
“Even if it’s a couple horses a year that benefit, it sounds small, but it definitely makes a difference,” she said.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com
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