BY KRISTYNA LUKACOVA
Susan Pierce is the president and founder of Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Chino Hills, California. With the help of her team, Susan has rescued 371 horses; 225 of which have found forever homes. Susan’s optimistic attitude is incredibly inspiring.
Upon meeting Susan, she gave me a tour of “the ranch the horses own.” Ears perked and muzzles nickered as Susan guided me through the aisles. The horses take comfort in her familiar face, soft voice, and contagious smile. Susan shared several somber stories. Horses used as dog bait, dragged behind tractors, abandoned in riverbeds, ridden with broken limbs. Each story was harder to hear than the last.
As I listened and admired the beautiful horses Susan successfully saved, I shed a tear and thought about the neglected and slaughter bound horses that don’t make it to the ranch — horses that don’t receive a red bucket full of dinner every night. Susan was quick to remind me that although, “We can’t save every horse in the world, we mean the world to every horse we save.”
She carefully explained all three parts of Red Bucket’s life saving mission, because “Rescue is only the beginning.” Red bucket strives to save and rehabilitate horses, restore their trust in humankind, and find them safe, loving, permanent adoptive homes. Susan hopes that Red Bucket Equine will become the most recognizable and reputable equine rescue in the nation. That goal seems within reach as the rescue continues to grow in popularity and head count.
Although the average weight gain of a red bucket horse is over 300 pounds after arrival, Susan stresses that rescue horses require more than food, water, and shelter. It is important for these horses to heal, not only on a physical level, but also emotionally in mind and spirit.
I had the incredible opportunity of working alongside Susan as an intern for the Red Bucket Equine Rescue in the summer of 2017. I can confidently say that Susan has helped shape me into the equestrian and human being I am today. Together, we have shed tears of sorrow and joy. Under Susan’s guidance, I worked with several rescue horses on a daily basis. Whether I was dressing wounds, grooming, or hand walking — I too healed. The rescue helped give me a sense of self. I felt as if I had found my place in this world.
Red Bucket not only heals horses, but their horses also heal humans and Susan is as much as a hero to every horse she saves as she is to me.