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TOP TRAIL

Adele enjoying life as a well-loved trail partner in October 2013. Photo credit Deanna Belanger.

#092 at the auction stable. Photo credit Laura Simmons.

May 2015 ready to hit the trail. Photo credit Deanna Belanger.

Gradually Adele began to bloom and enjoyed all the attention she received. Not long after arriving at the rescue Adele was sponsored by a fan of the rescue named Veronica. Adele enjoyed frequent visits from Veronica and her granddaughter.

After Adele gained weight and strength, her training level was evaluated by the rescue so that she could be placed into the right home. She spent months at the rescue, gaining weight and being loved. She transformed from a skinny and dirty gray mare to a healthy and bright gray mare.

While at the rescue several people expressed interest in adopting Adele but for whatever reason, she just didn’t seem to be a good fit for any of them and they passed. The rescue has many followers and people who volunteer time and resources to help the horses. One of those helpers was Deanna Belanger. Adele had caught Deanna’s eye and attention and for several months Deanna considered adopting her. Deanna followed Adele’s story through pictures posted on the Facebook fan page of SSFRE. Finally, in October 2012, Deanna set up a time to meet Adele in person and their story began.

Deanna has always had a soft spot for horses all shades of gray. Her first horse was a flea-bitten gray Arabian mare named My My Star. Adele reminded Deanna of a lot of Star. During the first meeting with Adele, Deanna and a few friends looked her over, groomed her, and evaluated her under saddle. Deanna really liked her Adele, and was encouraged by Carolyn to take her home for a one week trial but Deanna made her decision to keep Adele in less than one day! Adele arrived at the barn Deanna was currently boarding at and that was it – Deanna told Carolyn she would like to adopt her and requested the adoption contract. Adele had finally found a home on November 4, 2012.

Adele was broke to ride; however, she had some baggage to overcome. Without knowing her background, it took some time to determine what she really knew and what may upset her. It took time to figure her out while Adele had to figure out her new rider as well. Gradually though, the pair developed a partnership and understanding of each other. To this point, Adele had only been in an arena – she had not been out on the trails with Deanna yet. Within the first month, Deanna took Adele out on the trail with friends, and while Adele was tense and looking at many things, she was a good girl. Deanna was confident that over time, Adele would settle down.

As the years went on, the trust between Adele 

and Deanna deepened and together they rode

many more miles of trails. Adele developed

into solid trail horse even though she still deals

with issues from her days before coming into

the rescue. Adele displays confidence as a lead

horse, has overcome a fear of water crossings

and bridges, and does it all with an “ears up”

attitude. It’s quite impressive how far Adele

has come – from a skinny, unwanted mare to

a healthy, bright eyed trail partner who is well

loved by Deanna.

Adele hasn’t always had a life of love – aside

from being starved and thrown away. She

also bears scars—evidence of past trials,

tribulations, and injuries of which Deanna will

likely never know their origin. Was it abuse,

or were they from an accident? At this time,

only Adele knows. What Deanna does know,

is this friendly mare doesn’t hold her past

against people. She is friendly, personable,

and wants to please. She takes things in

stride, has proven herself a valuable trail

partner, and she simply gets better with

every mile.

Adele’s transformation over the years is

amazing to the many people who know her

and her story. Her coat is bright gray, with

a silver shine reflecting the sunshine. Her

large dark eyes are soft and alert now –

gone are the days of the dull, lifeless

expression she once had. Her past may be

unknown but her future is bright. The

pictures of her in her time of need serve as a

reminder that when things take a turn for the worst, not all is lost. 

Deanna and Adele have been involved with Top Trail since 2015 and have already logged hundreds of miles in the program. Top Trail celebrates and recognizes equines of all breeds, ages, sizes, abilities and backgrounds along with their riders/owners. 

 From Auction to Top Trail Horse

By Deanna Belanger, RN


It was late spring 2012 at an auction stable in Alabama, stood a young gray mare with a wormy looking belly and a body condition score of barely a 2. Her background and name was unknown. Her identity was a number on her hip —092. She stood tied to a fence at the auction awaiting her fate among many others, two of which came to the auction with her. This sad looking gray mare and her friends caught the eye of a kind-hearted woman by the name of Laura Simmons, who set out to do whatever was needed to save the trio. People from all over came together to save 092 and her friends.

A friend of Laura’s who operates a rescue, was called upon to see if she could purchase 092 and take her into the rescue. Laura sent pictures and as much information as she could find about 092 to that friend, Carolyn Sanders of Sand Stone Farm’s Rescue Efforts (SSFRE), based in Michigan. Through                                             conversations back and                                 forth, Laura did the                                       bidding on behalf of                                     SSFRE and with the                                       winning bid of $50,                                       092 was given the                                         opportunity of a better                                 life as she left the                                         auction stable with                                       Laura that very day.

                                092 was approximately                                 9 years old when she                                     began her rehabilitation                                 back to health. She was                                 given the name                                             of Adele and spent time                                 in Alabama before she was strong enough to ship to Michigan in June 2012. Upon arrival in Michigan, her body condition was still poor so she was put on a feeding rehabilitation program. 

Adele showing improvement after 45 days at the rescue. Photo credit Sand Stone Farm's rescue Efforts (SSFRE).

Four years after being rescued. Photo credit Amanda Rogers.