When a cowboy gives an adopted horse a second chance, he uses his new gelding to wrangle unwanted horses, day-work and team rope.

Photo courtesy of Matt Petrey

For 11 years, Matt Petrey has volunteered his time helping the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Texas. He takes horses and cattle to his ranch in Wills Point, Texas, when the shelter is full, and feeds and cares for the at-risk animals. He believes that horses that wind up in shelters are valuable and capable mounts.

When a 13-year-old-bay gelding came in with a herd of neglected horses, it caught Petrey’s eye.

“I’ve seen some pretty sad situations as far as recues go. These seized horses were all underweight, but the gelding wasn’t the thinnest one out of the group,” says Petrey. “He’s actually an easy keeper. He filled out pretty good, and he’s big and fat now.”

head and heel cow for doctoring
Photo courtesy of Matt Petrey

Petrey also helps the SPCA evaluate horses under saddle once their body condition improves. About a month after being rescued, Petrey decided to adopt the gelding. Once “Bear,” as he came to be known, filled out, Petrey says he could tell the gelding had been ridden before.

“I don’t know much about his background,” he says, “but I figure he’d been a team roping horse and used in the arena. He didn’t have much pasture experience, but now he does.”

horse tied to a stock trailer
Photo courtesy of Matt Petrey

Petrey tends to his own cattle and also day works, and he uses Bear to rope and doctor. He also uses him in the sorting pens. The reliable gelding is also his “daughter’s No. 1 rope horse.”

Petrey says folks ought to give adoptable horses a chance, and to use common sense when picking one to use as a working horse. Bear isn’t the first horse he’s adopted that he’s used to day-work with, and he says he certainly won’t be his last.

To learn more about the The Right Horse Initiative, and to submit your own successful adoption story, visit therighthorse.org.


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