Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Beth Behrs, EQUUS Foundation & Rising Starr Horse Rescue

Through teamwork, communication and the unifying goal of saving horses, a community of equine advocates worked together to rescue five Thoroughbreds in need.

Horses in need can be found in a variety of places, from hoarding situations to high-end show barns with inhumane practices to well-meaning private owners who simply cannot care for their animals any longer. The latter of which was exactly the situation for five at-risk Thoroughbreds on the East Coast in mid-January. Fortunately, actress Beth Behrs (of “Two Broke Girls” and “The Neighborhood”) and EQUUS Foundation stepped in to help.

Behrs is an equine/animal advocate and rescue horse owner. She became aware of the Thoroughbreds in need of a soft landing. The horses were owned by an elderly couple, but when the husband passed away the care of the horses became too much for the widow, especially with the onset of winter. Behrs looked for a way to help.

Jonathon. Photo by Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

She began by reaching out to her friend Caitlin Cimini at Rancho Relaxo Rescue. They acted immediately, but could only take two of the horses before they were at full capacity. Then, with the help of social media, they caught the attention of Valerie Angelie, VP, Engagement, EQUUS Foundation, who reached out to Kelly Stackpole, the founder of EQUUS Foundation Guardian Rising Starr.

Drew. Photo by Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

“The horse community is unlike any community I’ve ever had the gift of being a part of,” said Behrs. “The way that horse lovers show up to support each other and the animals always makes me so emotional. I love the community of horse people I’ve made in real life and on social media. When my friend Caitlin of Rancho Relaxo Rescue desperately needed help, I had no doubt EQUUS Foundation would be up for the challenge. I’m so happy I was able to help connect two incredible horse warriors in order to save these beautiful four-legged souls in dire need of help.”

Fortunately, helping horses in transition find their next chapter to be useful, protected and loved is what EQUUS Foundation is all about. By organizing a major team effort, two more horses — Jonathon and Drew — were rescued from a falling-down, makeshift barn and taken to the safety of Rising Starr’s new facility in Wilton, Connecticut.

The barn that housed the Thoroughbreds. Photo courtesy of EQUUS Foundation.

Rescue day. Photo courtesy of EQUUS Foundation.

“Human animal guardians can fall on hard times beyond their control and often the human needs help as well as the animal,” said Valerie Angeli, VP, Engagement, EQUUS Foundation. “While every case of animal abuse and neglect is tragic, it is important not to waste time judging and condemning, but to find a quick solution. This can be complicated and require expertise and assistance from different organizations who have unique skills and resources, especially when it comes to horses. Pulling that together and working as team to help horses out of bad situations and into hope and a new life is a beautiful thing!”

“Working together as a team with Rancho Relaxo Rescue, the EQUUS Foundation and Beth Behrs made the rescue of Jonathon and Drew possible. No one organization, rescue or foundation can stop slaughter and abuse. Like minded organizations must work together,” said Stackpole. “Jonathon and Drew are just starting to realize humans are friends and not foes. Sometimes it’s just kindness that matters.”

Drew getting acquainted in his new home shortly after being rescued. Photo by Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

Rising Starr is working on making Jonathon and Drew suitable for adoption by treating them with proper veterinary care, focusing on their nutrition and putting them in a training program. They receive handling by knowledgeable staff so that they can learn to trust people and thrive knowing that they will be safe and fed regularly.

Rising Starr volunteer, Debby Stein, helping socialize and calm Jonathon and Drew by reading to them. Photo by Rising Starr.

Kelly Stackpole and Stacey Young with Drew. Photo by Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

You can follow Jonathon and Drew’s progress on Rising Starr’s Facebook and Instagram. Adoption inquiries should be directed to Kelly Stackpole at Rising Starr, [email protected]; 203-257-8345.

Rising Starr is an outstanding example of the ever-growing list of EQUUS Foundation Guardian partners across the country.

Left to right: Michelle Lavelle, Ed Lavelle, Ava Craig, Kelly Stackpoke and Linda Franco with Jonathon. Photo by Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

The EQUUS Foundation Guardians program nationally recognizes equine charities dedicated to the highest standards for horse care that demonstrate their willingness to be fully transparent by making their policies and horse care practices available for public scrutiny.

“It is a very powerful force for good when people come together for horses in need and pool their expertise and resources,” said Angeli. “We need to work together to save lives. All horses deserve hopeful, happy lives and a humane and dignified end of life.”

“We are currently helping with solutions for the three remaining rescued Thoroughbreds that need a home and will keep our followers posted,” said Angeli. It’s more important now than ever before — with the advent of the internet and social media and the ease in which misleading information can be disseminated — that the very best equine charities are nationally recognized and receive much needed financial support from horse lovers and horse protectors across the country.

We welcome donors to designate their donations to specific EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities. View the list here.

About Rising Starr Horse Rescue:
The purpose of Rising Starr Horse Rescue is to save America’s horses from cruelty or slaughter and provide them with a second chance at life. The do this by rescuing horses in need and education the public through programs at their wellness center. Their talented and specialized group of veterinarians, care staff and volunteers work together and are committed to each horses rehabilitation ensuring that they become healthy, happy, and confident horses before they move on to their loving homes. Their Mission does not stop there as they also strive to educate others about the cruelty of horse slaughter and provide guidance on decreasing the number of unwanted horses in the United States. ​You can support Rising Starr by donating here.

About EQUUS Foundation:
The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100 percent dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-mail: [email protected], Website:

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.