Apr 26, 2017

Say “Hi” to Howie – Kandy Shepherd

 I missed my post last month because we had a death in the family. Not, thank heaven, a human loss. But my daughter’s beloved pony Banjo died in a freak accident in one of the wild storms that were then lashing my part of Down Under. He was a member of our family, a pony with personality plus, and we all adored him. No one more so than my daughter. He was her special horse and a best friend from when she was twelve years old. They were a wonderful team with a cupboard full of pony club trophies and medals to attest to their bond. To say she is devastated is an understatement.

RIP precious Banjo

 But you know what they say about silver linings…

My daughter is nearing the end of her extended university studies and wanting to spend more time riding. She needed another horse for her friends and her to ride –and as a companion to Banjo. She decided to adopt a rescue horse from a wonderful charity, Save A Horse Australia in Queensland. Back in March, my daughter and my husband flew up from New South Wales where we live to meet Howard. (Yes, Howard the Horse!) Not only did she have to see if the horse suited her, SAHA had to see if she suited the horse in terms of both riding ability and commitment to giving him a good, safe home. Turned out they were a match.

Howard the horse settling in to his new home

Howie arrived the morning Banjo died and was greeted by a weeping new owner. Although it seemed tragic at the time, his arrival turned out to be a blessing. Our other horse Flynn hates to be on his own, so he got a new friend. They bonded immediately. It also gave us something positive to focus on in our grief over our precious Banjo—though it will take time for us to get over his loss.

With his new pal Flynn

Howie was rescued in an appalling, emaciated condition by SAHA. He’s a fifteen-year old thoroughbred who, perhaps, outlived his usefulness as a race horse and was discarded. The charity got him back to good health and let him know he was valued and cherished. Then they sent him to be trained to ride not race. “Track to hack”, I think they call it. My daughter will need to get him further training, a challenge she is looking forward to. She has signed a comprehensive adoption agreement to make sure Howie never ends up in a pitiful state again.

Getting to know each other

 Howie is the most beautiful horse both in looks and in nature. He has an elegant gait and is a pleasure to watch when he’s in motion. SAHA got him to us in immaculate condition, as you can see from the photos. What a handsome boy!

Start of a new friendship

 I’m not the “horsey” person in the family, I love horses but don’t ride and am a tad scared of such big animals. But I’ve fallen for Howie. He’s intelligent and I think he knows he’s come to a place where he’ll be loved. He’s very gentle with me, even when he’s anxious to get stuck into his feed. (Because of course, like parents everywhere whose kids acquire pets, some of the daily care like mixing up his feeds falls on me and my husband while my daughter is at uni!) 

Howard has come home.

Where's my food!

All of our pets are rescues in one way or the other. “Rescue is My Favourite Breed” is a favourite saying of mine. Other LoveCats are fans of rescue animals too. We all admire Rachel Bailey for her care of greyhounds “retired” from the track. What about you? Have you ever adopted a rescue animal of any kind? Or has one found its way to you? (Two of my cats found me!) Do you have a favourite animal rescue charity? I’d love to see your comments!


  1. Hi Kandy

    I am so sorry for the loss of Banjo my heart goes out to you all but hello Howie he is beautiful and sure to be a fabulous friend. Most of our pets have come from the RSPCA or we have found them and in about 6 weeks time we are welcoming 2 kittens into our family a friend has found a stray cat who had 6 kittens and we are going to adopt 2 of them because 2 is fun I have seen a photo of the 6 mostly black and black and white but we well pick a couple when we meet them in a couple of weeks we are very excited it is a while since we have had a cat :)

    Have Fun

  2. Two new kittens! How exciting,Helen. You and your grandchildren must be counting the days until you can see them. I'm sure you'll share photos on social media and I'm looking forward to seeing them!

  3. Kandy, thanks so much for sharing these photos! He does look like a lovely horse.

    Years ago we adopted a stray dog who wandered into our yard and who'd pretty obviously been maltreated. She lived with us for years and had a pretty happy life.

    1. So your dog found you- clever girl! I'm glad to see that worked out so well both for you and your dog, Annie.

  4. Oh Howie is just gorgeous!! I'm so sorry about the loss of Banjo, but glad Howie can give your family some healing.

    We lost one of our cats last week too...he was 14, so had a good long and happy life. So sad when they leave us, though. We did think about getting another cat to fill the void but we aren't so sure as we're moving into a different stage of our lives. But if we do, it'll be a good old moggie from SPCA.

    1. Louisa, I'm so sorry to see about your cat. Fourteen years of cat companionship is a big chunk of your life.
      I know what you mean about a difference stage of your life. We have four cats. We have two very old girls and I have promised hubby that I won't want to replace them when they--heartbreakingly--go. Sometimes it costs us more to board the cats when we go away than our accommodation!

  5. So sorry to hear about Banjo, Kandy. How devastating for you all.

    But what a lovely horse Howie is! And very beautiful. And what a lovely thing to do to rescue him like that! He definitely deserved another chance. I bet he and your daughter will become the best of friends.

    We once rescued a feral kitten. Heaven's he was wild in the early days before becoming just a great big ole pussycat.:-)

    1. Thanks, Michelle it has been difficult. But Howie is rather gorgeous and settling in well!
      Our two rescue feral kittens are still a bit feral but the older they get the calmer they get, I'm glad to hear yours settled down!

  6. So sorry to hear about Banjo, but glad Howie has a great new home!

  7. What a beautiful story, Kandy. Howie looks gorgeous. Big hugs for the loss of Banjo too.
    A few years back we adopted an ex pig hunting dog from a friend. He was a greyhound whippet cross: small and extremely fast which meant he was always first to the pig and often injured. (I am not a fan of this at all) When his owner decided to retire Boss early we were lucky to take him in. He had the sweetest nature and gave us a lot of happy times in the few years we had him. And he certainly enjoyed his easy life!

    1. Thanks Sue. Boss sounds like quite a character and what a happy ending to his story!

  8. What perfect timing for Howie to arrive. So sorry to hear about the loss of Banjo. There are no words that are enough to express my condolences as I'm sure all your rescues become members of the family.
    I haven't personally adopted any animals (mainly since I can't really have pets where I am and it currently wouldn't be fair on them). However I recall Mum coming home with additional pets several times when the owners couldn't keep them for various reasons.
    The most memorable is Doc the Border Collie. I'm not certain but I think his original owner passed away when his digger rolled. We ended up passing Doc onto a farmer in the Marlborough area. As fantastic as Doc was, he had a huge excess of energy and would try to round up everything, including the car when Mum and step-dad reversed down the driveway. I do recall that we heard back from the farmer that Doc had to be a cattle dog, as he had too much energy etc for the wellbeing of the sheep.

    1. Thank you Lyn for your kind words about our horses.

      I love Border Collies, my favourite breed of dog. I enjoyed your story about Doc. Being a working dog seemed to be bred into the Border Collies I have known. Rounding things up is something they just have to do. I'm not surprised to see Doc ended up back as working dog!