The Story Begins With a Kiss
In December 2005, Westmoreland County Humane Officer Elaine Gower contacted horse owners Bryce and Christina LeJeune. Elaine expressed concern about the future of a young Morab gelding that had been seized earlier in the year. The four-year-old sorrel had been starved and carried scars on his back from being beaten with boards. Due to a severe behavior problem, he had been rejected by three foster homes and was running out of options. The horse, now known as “Winston”, was petrified of people, especially men. He had learned to avoid beatings by running over anyone who tried to confine him. Bryce and Chris agreed to foster him and try to determine if his behavior problem might be correctable. After a two hour game of tag, a broken pair of glasses, and some bruised muscles he was loaded into a trailer and was on his way to the LeJeune farm.
In his stall, Winston was very nervous. He would tremble and break into a sweat when humans would get too close. Chris saw something special in the young horse and carefully tried to gain his trust. She spent time in his stall daily, just standing at a distance patiently waiting for him to move closer. When she first tried to touch him he would jump back in fear. As he gained confidence he would allow her to stroke his neck and cheeks. He was still apprehensive but started to enjoy the attention. One January day during his petting session Chris pressed her face close to Winston’s nose and kissed him. At that magic moment, his fear seemed to melt. He became a willing partner and his rehabilitation accelerated. He quickly learned it felt good to be brushed and even helped to put on his own halter so he could go outside. He no longer ran from humans. He now approached to be petted or to enjoy an occasional treat.
When Elaine Gower was told the good news she was pleased but said that there was a greater problem. Winston was not the only horse in need of help. She explained that the Humane Society shelters in the area were able to satisfy the needs of small animals, but none had the facility, finances, or staff trained to handle horses and other large animals. When humane officers faced a horse related emergency they struggled to find places willing to accept the animals. Additionally, horse complaints in the area were increasing at an alarming rate. Due to her persistence and a tenacious dedication to animals, Elaine convinced the LeJeunes of the need to form an organization to respond to the problem of abused and neglected horses. After many phone calls to experienced horse owners, humane officers and equine professionals, the Second Chance Equine Association had its first organizational meeting at a small restaurant in Latrobe on April 1, 2006. Attended by about a dozen horse enthusiasts, the ground work was laid to embark on our mission.
SCEA has accomplished a great deal in the past 10 years. More than 140 horses have been rehabilitated and placed in good homes. Monthly educational opportunities for horse owners are offered. Consultation and help for unintentional horse neglecters are provided to help them avoid seizure and prosecution. In 2018 we purchased the farm that had been leased to us for the past 8 years. Improvements and planning are ongoing. Please join us on this journey and enjoy the ride. Only God knows where the trail will lead from here!