A Horse and a Haircut

How one small act of kindness changed everything for an animal in need

Sarah Olson Michel
8 min readAug 5, 2021

I didn’t know what to expect when I saw my new horse for the first time. I had paid for her sight unseen, and arranged for her to be shipped to Oregon from Washington. It was nerve-wracking, but that’s the nature of rescues — you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into.

This May, I bought a horse from a feedlot, where the animals wait in purgatory to be shipped out of the country for slaughter or bought by someone willing to give them a second chance. She was an unhandled youngster, fearful of people, and in rough shape. Where other people saw a waste of time and money, I saw potential.

But there she stood, a solid little American Quarter Horse with a knotted mane hanging down to her knees. I wasn’t worried about the journey that lay ahead of us. This is what I do in my free time; take in unwanted, neglected horses and transform them into something extraordinary.

I’ve named her Alula, after a parallel star in the Ursa Major constellation. Working with challenging horses like this brings me joy and purpose. I’m not an equine veterinarian or a professional trainer, although I work collaboratively with them on my horses. I just have time, patience, and TLC to give.