Success Story

Bailey's Happily Ever After

When it's right, you just know.

Den Burdette has been working with horses his whole life. As an award-winning equestrian competitor and professional trainer, he’s seen and ridden the very best horses worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Who ever thought it would be an unwanted, used-up, has-been ranch horse that would turn out to be Den’s Soul Horse? But that’s exactly what happened in October of 2017.

Den was hauling one of many horses from a kill pen for Swingin’ D Horse Rescue when he met the horse he would name Bailey, a gelding that looked nearly identical to two other horses Den had recently hauled and quarantined for us. All three fit the description of one of the most common sights on a kill lot: Well broke, teenage, sorrel, working horse.

For some reason, Bailey could not be more unique to Den.

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Bailey and Den Burdette

Immediately struck by Bailey’s calm demeanor and business-like attitude, Den was excited about keeping the gelding through a 30-day quarantine and evaluation. And perhaps more.

Within days, Den was enthusiastically and persistently negotiating a trade – his services as a trainer and hauler, if he could adopt Bailey. We had never agreed to such a trade, and we knew Den had access to all manner of horses, so we were a little concerned other flashier, more expensive horses might come along and steal Den’s attention from Bailey. But because we’d seen Den work with several of our horses and we’d witnessed his compassion and commitment for those in his care (and because Den was not going to give up), we agreed.

The soul-to-soul connection is an undeniable mystery, and it’s one we’ve seen time and time again. What did Den see in Bailey that he didn’t see in the two other sorrels that looked so much like him? To the naked eye, they were virtually the same; but the naked eye doesn’t lead the soul.

Since Den adopted Bailey in October of 2017, the soulmates have lived quite the Happily Ever After, rescuing countless horses from slaughter, showing in dressage and Western dressage (pretty impressive for a ranch horse!), and training young riders.

We’re grateful to Den for allowing us to share their shining example of the magical connection that can exist between horse and human.

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