Friday, May 15, 2015

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Random Notes of Kindness Inspire Hope

How Random Notes of Kindness Inspire Hope

Sometimes as the founder of Stolen Horse International ( I get so bogged down in the day to day business of running the company that I forget that there are people who come to meet us through social mediums and our website for the first time every day. These people do not know what we are about, nor do they know our history.
I need to constantly educate our followers, fans and friends which would not be hard if that was all I had to do. Anyone want to be in charge of education? What a good idea! If you want to be a volunteer in charge of NetPosse education, email me from the website.
Yes, I did get sidetracked but this is how my brain works. It multitask all day, every minute. Now, I will get back to this blog entry.
Today on one of our social mediums, Facebook to be exact, I was responding to one of the comments under one of stolen horse alerts. A lady asked us something that she could have easily ask the owner of the horse by clicking on the link provided with the alert and then clicking on the email.
So why didn’t she do that?
I found myself explaining to the woman and the others on the page how they can contact the owner with questions and why they should.
“You can go to the page link above and email the owner. If she hasn’t thought of that you may remind her to check. I know she’d love to hear from you.”
As soon as I wrote that line it took my thoughts back to 1997 after our horse Idaho was stolen from our family. It took me awhile to discover the internet but once I did the machine became my new best friend, my besty and my BFF as it seems now. (I promise you I didn’t see that one coming!)
There is a reason we have the victim’s email and phone number on our reports (it is not just for when you find the horse) and we ask you to contact the victim and let them know you are there to help. All victims appreciate being contacted with ideas and offers of help. It makes them feel like they are not all alone. Believe me. I have been in their shoes and I know what that feels like.
Let me explain further.
When your horse is stolen or missing people are shocked and stunned at first. Many may rush to your side to help in one way or another. Or, they may not. As the days wear on and the horse is not recovered everyone goes on with their lives and the victim is left with their obsession to find their horse.
And that is what it is for most of us victims, an obsession. If we are not obsessed about finding our horse who will be? I know for a fact that when a horse is ripped out of your life and it is not your choice that as a victim you eat, sleep and breathe ways to bring your horse home.
You wonder what is happening to the horse. Is it okay? Is someone hurting the horse? What must the horse be thinking? Is the horse alive? Even worse, is the horse…you…know…where? It doesn’t matter if you are pro or con slaughter; we all know that horses taken from owners do not belong there! And it is here usually that the pain is too much to bare and the tears fall and your heart gets crushed once again.
A victim repeats this scenario or one similar over and over and over all day and all night ever day a horse is missing. It is not always apparent on the outside. A victim learns to carry on daily activities and duties with the terrible anguish rumbling inside. This inner chaos for me and my husband never stopped for 51 weeks when Idaho was gone no matter what the happy pictures taken during that year showed on the outside.
It is a terrible feeling. It was the daily email from total strangers around the world that kept me going when Idaho was gone for 51 weeks.
I have heard from victims who have had horses missing for 20 years or more and even though they learned to deal with the loss in their own ways, they never quit wondering and the sadness they felt when they thought of the horse never goes away. They are robbed of all of the happy memories because the happy ones are always shadowed by the loss they feel for the horse.
When we send out a NetPosse Alert we are greatly appreciative of you sharing the alerts with your friends and having your friends sharing it with their friends. But please take the time to look at the info inside the alerts and send a note to the owners.
You may even take some time to look up some of our older unsolved cases and send those owners a note. Won’t they be surprised! And I bet you may even bring a tear to someone’s eye. I know my eyes teared up now thinking about forgotten victims getting notes. But then I am a victim and I know what it would mean to them. When you’ve been there, done that, you never forget.
The email notes do not have to be anything long or heartfelt. Just let them know that you are there and you care. I already know that you care because you are sending the alerts to your friends.
“Hi! I ran across your listing on today and saw that you have not recovered your horse. I am posting your alert on my facebook page for you. I hope this helps. Good luck with your search and I hope your horse is home soon!
Now find a listing on, new or old and brighten someone’s day. You never know how just a few words can matter to someone who needs them so much.
Never underestimate the power of one. Today, that “one” is you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Opie, home after almost 10 years - the rest of the story.

Witness the reuion!
Michelle Pool with Opie for the first time in almost 10 years!

This story is bittersweet. New wounds are open for one family and old wounds starting to heal for another.

Opie, missing for almost 10 years  finally came home on August 4th, 2012 thanks to Deanna Bordelon's tip and Stolen Horse International's webite.

Opie was picked up from Monday night July 31, 2012 (technically Tuesday morning right after midnight) from the unsuspecting family who has had him and loved him since November 2003. They did not know he had been stolen and, even though they were selling him, they were looking for just the right home because they do love him very much.

When someone takes a horse either by theft or by "civil" theft a domino affect begins. What we have here are three victims: the person who owned him when he was stolen, and the person who has had him since 2003, and, of course, Opie, who is now caught in the middle. The emotions are running high in both families.

OpieMichellePoolTravisTaylor.jpgLet’s not forget either the tipster who wonders if she did the right thing. She was so glad to help a victim but devastated, too, when saw the pain the other family was going through after having their world turned upside down. Losing him in the middle of the night the way they did, with barely time to say goodbye, is not an optimum situation for any honest, kind person, even if they were planning on selling him. 
Did the tipster do the right thing by contacting Stolen Horse International? Absolutely! We found the owner (which was not easy since she has move 4 times in 10 years and is in Arkansas) and made contact with her and broke the news.

I put together all the information that law enforcement needed to recover Opie for the victim. So valuable time would not be wasted, I contacted the officer on the original report to make sure this was a true theft. Once I knew and verified that this was still considered criminal theft by authorities, I assembled names, addresses and phone numbers for all parties, statements of fact, location of the horse and then handed it to law enforcement so all they had to do was verify the particulars and pick Opie up. I was personally working with the Dayton County Deputy and the TSCRA Ranger until they were on the way back with him at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. Opie went to one of their 'contract cowboy's" holding farms until all details were checked and cleared.

Did law enforcement do the right thing? Absolutely! At the time of seizure no one knew if Opie would be there the next day since he was on Craigslist for sale. No one knew if the people who had him were bad people or good people. Thank goodness for Opie it was the latter. He has had a good life with the family to whom he was given to in 2003.

Warbonnet's Craigslist classifie ad

Both owners of Opie were in shock for different reasons. Della Braden had him yanked from her loving arms and was left in tears. Yes, she was selling him but it was her intent to pick the next loving home for him. She was not prepared to barely be able to say goodbye to a horse she has loved for almost 10 years. Neither was her family. They have all been left scarred by this event too.

The other who had her world turned upside down when Opie was stolen, has never quit worrying about him and wondering if he was okay, has had her world flip, too, now that he has been found. Bringing him home for her was not as easy as getting in the truck and going to get him. She already had two horses boarded and the landloard was not happy about another horse at the facility. In the end the landloard gave in and Michelle immediately went to get Opie.

Michele Pool then started her journey to put bring him home on Friday night from Arkansas.  Along the way she had trailer brake problems and had to stop at a Walmart, pick up the parts and do the repairs in the parking lot.  On Saturday August 4, 2012  She saw him for the first time.

Words cannot describe her feeling or mine as I listened via phone (in Deanna Bordelon's husands pocket) as he told me what was happening. Listen carefully on the video and you will hear me. I was almost speechless myself.

At Stolen Horse International we are so thankful for the Deanna Bordelon, who thought to check out the horse on before she bought hm. She was so happy to help right a wrong that took place almost 10 years ago. She didn’t stand by and let the wrong act continue. Our hats are off to her for her courage in a society where most will look the other way and not get involved.

None of this should have happen but it did. It happens somewhere in the United States almost every day. One cowardly act caused the dominoes to start falling in 2003; one act of a theft.  What heartbreak that act has caused so many in its path.

Read all the news coverage (MSN, AOL, YAHOO, Today Show, and more) here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why have my owners not come for me?

I saw this post recently on one of my yahoo list groups.

Found @ 0630 this morning ( Sun 6/26 ) Two mares at the junction of St. Rt. 18 south and Porto Rico Rd. in New Milton, WV Looks like they have been traveling for a while, but appear healthy and well nourished. One Bay & one Buckskin. Neither wearing halters. I managed to catch the Buckskin and the Bay just followed us home. Both now safely in stalls while we search frantically for their owners. Please email or call us {304-873-2478} if you know where these ladies belong!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Maryanne

I noticed that the horses were located in West Virginia so I sent a note to an old friend. He assumed like most folks do why the owners had not been found.

He said, “It may be that they (the owners) don't want them back.”

Many people think that a found horse is an abandoned horse in these hard times.

Since he knew the people who had found the horses I asked him to forward our offer of help from Stolen Horse International / to help find the owners. I also sent along an explanation as to why his above statement may be an incorrect assumption.

In his response he added the following note, “PS: If you are still writing your blog you should post the information in your last message there.”

What a good idea I thought. So, here is that part of my reply to my friend about “found” horses.

Why have the owners not come forward?

It may be that they have not been found yet. Believe me; I have worked enough of the found horse cases to know that it is frequently more complicated than that. In the cases where we have located the owners, we found many if not all of the following to be true:
2.   The horse was lost by a caring owner
3.   The owner contacted authorities (law enforcement, animal control, etc)
4.   The finder contacted authorities (law enforcement, animal control, etc)
5.   The above mentioned authorities told the owner no one had found a horse when the called. (In one case Animal Control had the horse in custody!)
6.   The above mentioned authorities told the finder no one had reported having lost a horse when they called.
7.   The owner put up flyers and posted information in public venues
8.   The finder did the same.
All of the above was part of the cases where we were involved and the dots were not connected until we were inserted into the formula. I have to wonder how many more cases there are out there where the horses fall through the cracks due to miscommunications.

My guess is that there are many!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A NetPosse Christmas Story

A NetPosse Christmas Story
Email, Santa, and Miracles.
By Debi Metcalfe

When a horse owner awakes on a beautiful day just weeks before Christmas to find their cherished horse missing, instead of the joy of the season filling their spirit their heart is broken. After more than a dozen years working missing horses cases I know that bad things happen as often on a holiday as they do every day. But good things happen, too.

Let me tell you the NetPosse Christmas story of 2010, beginning on Friday morning, December 10th..

Early that morning, Shay Cantrell awoke to find her dreams of festive Christmas preparation shattered. Sometime during the night Sonny, a three year-old palomino Haflinger -Morgan gelding went missing from his pasture. No one could explain how Shay’s beloved golden boy Sonny had disappeared. There were no hoofprints found leaving the property.

Stolen Horse International came into existence because one day in 1997 I was in the same circumstances as Shay. Our beloved gray mare, Idaho, went missing. Feelings of victimization, desperation, and helplessness piled on to my loss and consumed my life until Idaho was home again.

Two days after Sonny disappeared I received an email, subject line “Help Missing Horse.” volunteers began reaching out to Shay Cantrell and her family before my own email note was even sent. One volunteer, Cynthia, told her about Stolen Horse International,

All Shay Cantrell wanted for Christmas was Sonny safely back home in his pasture. She filed a report with but couldn’t pay the fee until after Christmas. Volunteer Angela Kirby, our Executive Coordinator, had been working with Shay since connecting with her on Craigs List. Everything was in place at but payment.

Our story has plenty of victims as well as an unsung network of caring folks working to help Sonny get home. Stolen Horse International was founded because of the kindness people showed my husband and me when Idaho was stolen from our pasture. My miracle is replayed every day when we see our beautiful gray mare in her pasture. Since Idaho came home I have worked daily to share my miracle with other horse owners.

As much as I wanted to get Shay’s alert out, no organization can run on purely emotional fuel. We had the report and photos of Sonny, but no fee. I sat at the computer desperately wanting to send out the alert, but without payment fee I couldn’t. Product sales, donations, contributions, and report fees keep Stolen Horse International in existence. Keeping up the search for missing horses and paying the light bill is a bigger challenge than I ever expected, and I couldn’t start making exceptions now.

As I was trying to work through my frustration another email appeared. A NetPosse volunteer wrote, “Send Shay a message and tell her it is paid by Santa. Then let me know how I need to pay you and I will pay it for her. Please call Shay and tell her everything is OK and done. Merry Christmas to you and your family.”

As fast as North Pole elves we set to work. News of Sonny’s disappearance went to Facebook and Twitter, to thousands on our mailing list and to the many other contacts we have developed over the years.
When Shay received her email with links to Sonny’s web page, his flyer, and notice of alerts being sent she emailed back, “But I don’t have the $25 to pay for the posting till the first.”

With tear-filled eyes and beaming smile I typed my email reply to Shay on December 16th. “Santa Claus came early and someone paid it for you.J” By return email Shay shared her incredulous gratitude and made a commitment to donate the amount of her fee after Christmas. Two days later Shay emailed me again.

“I just wanted to let you know that we just went to pick up our Sonny. A rancher had seen a flier in a gas station (I printed off several fliers that you made for us and put them around town) He saw Sonny in the woods and called the sheriff immediately. Sonny was about 10 miles away, and he lost a lot of weight! But thanks to you and your site we have our Sonny home safe and before the holidays. Thank you so much for every thing you have done for us!! - "No heaven can heaven be, if my horse isn't there to welcome me.” -
Bradly & Shay

After Sonny had been found I had the opportunity to talk with Shay and learned a bit more about her ordeal. I asked her how she felt when she discovered Sonny missing.

“We were all devastated! Our hearts sank and I felt sick. I thought he was gone for good, that someone had taken him. There were no hoof prints leaving our property. We were worried that we would never see him again. It affected my 4 year old daughter the most; she couldn't understand why Sonny was gone.” she replied. “Sonny was missing for eight long miserable days.”

When asked about Sonny’s recovery Shay told me they dropped everything the moment they received the call to bring their golden horse home. “We are so excited that we got him back. We wouldn’t have found him if it wasn’t for Stolen Horse International. The support we received from everybody is fantastic - so many prayers and people who care and try to fill you up with warmth and positive thoughts. This Christmas is a miracle. Our family is complete again. And Santa, whoever you are, you made all of our Christmas wishes come true.”

Just like I did, Shay Cantrell’s family got their own Christmas miracle when Sonny came home. Sometimes the smallest gesture can lead to a miracle. As soon as I knew Sonny was recovered and home again I sent an email to our own “Santa.”

Cynthia, this was the best $25 gift you ever gave. Merry Christmas, and never underestimate the power of one… this time the one was you!

Cynthia emailed back that it was also the best Christmas gift to her as well. After speaking to Shay at the beginning Cynthia believes a voice from heaven asked her to pay the fee. Cynthia’s email read, “Just goes to show that when the Angels give us a message we need to listen. I only played a small part and wouldn’t have been able to help her if it was not for SHI. We were all in this together. Merry Christmas to all of us.”

Rather than send an email, I’ll take this opportunity to reveal Santa’s identity to Shay.

“Shay, you’ve already spoken with “Santa” and sent her a thank you note for telling you about Stolen Horse International. Your own secret Santa is Cynthia Lawhon, a fellow Texan. Whether Cynthia is your angel or just a special woman who listens when angels speak, now you know who has been there with you all along.

So many people were involved in bringing this one golden horse home for Christmas. There was Sonya and our notification team, Angela who prepared both the report and the flyer, and Michelle who posted the flyer to hundreds of list groups. There were also thousands of NetPosse volunteers who received our alerts, and the folks on our mailing list who post the flyers and send them on to their friends.

That’s our NetPosse Christmas story for 2010. Let me add that I am a believer. I believe in Santa Claus, at least the spirit of goodness that is Santa Claus. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love see it bring out the best in people.

The 1897 New York Sun editorial, “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” is one of my favorite Christmas pieces and sums up the blessing received by Shay and Sonny, our volunteers, Cynthia, and me. May you also be blessed by this short excerpt;

“He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know they abound and give to your life it highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were not Santa Claus!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Debi Metcalfe

Special thanks go to Lynn Baber, for her assistance with this story.

© 2010 Debi Metcalfe - Permission to publish is understood as long as origination and contact information forDebi Metcalfe is left intact. 

Note: I know there is some spacing problems between the paragraphs. I could not get them to line up right in this software. Sorry.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stolen Florida Horse Recovered Alive!

Stolen Florida Horse Recovered Alive!

Seen through the eyes of a victim

by Debi Metcalfe and Judy Aregano

On September 11, 2009, Stolen Horse International, aka, received a disturbing report from Judy Aregano, stating that five horses had been stolen from Florida, one of which was her horse Shilo.

Aregano reported that allegedly two men along with a heavy-set blond woman stopped at a Seffner, FL, property on Williams Road and loaded the horses into a green combo stock trailer pulled by a maroon newer model Dodge dully truck. The thieves pulled up a fence post, cut the fence, drove into the pasture, loaded the horses, came back through, and re-tied the fence to make it look like it was still up.

How do we know so many details? Because someone was watching it all happen. Which raises an obvious question: How could this could happen in full view of “unsuspecting” witnesses? This scenario is hard for anyone to conceive.

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, (actually I do) as the signs are impossible to ignore: Complacency is one reason this happens. Many horse owners really don’t care, don’t think it will happen to them or will turn and look the other way rather than get involved.

Then there is bewilderment as to why would anyone would want to steal a horse? No one steals a horse in the 21st century with the price of horses at rock bottom, right? Wrong. The recession has spurred cutbacks, layoffs and, now, increased theft. With the economy tanking, security pros see a spike in old-time thievery. And what do people steal in recessionary times? Cash, clothes, cigarettes, copper - pretty much everything including horses and equipment. The few dollars one may obtain from selling stolen property may buy groceries or pay the electric bill for a family. Let’s face it, there is always a market for a good cheap horse.

And we all have heard about the horses that are being dropped off because owners cannot afford them anymore. All of those roaming horses are dumped, right? Wrong, often they are lost and in need of being found by their owners. Again, it is just easy to assume that they have been dumped because it is the more complacent act.

In the defense of horse an owner being complacent, it is not totally our fault is it? What do we hear about every day in the news? For the most part, if it is the horrific crimes like shootings, stabbings, fires, wrecks or drug-related stories that make the news. Stories about theft are more often than not at the end of the newscast or flashed quickly – if they make it at all. Stories about horse theft usually make it in a broadcast on slow news days. I can’t tell you how many stories have been bumped for “better” news items. If we don’t hear about it in the news then it “ain’t” happening is it?

On the other hand there has been a great deal of news coverage about the horses that have been butchered in recent months in Florida, and I am grateful for the public awareness. However, how many of those articles mentioned that the horses were stolen first and then offered tips to help you protect your horses from succumbing to the same fate? Very few did, as the theft of the horse is not as important as the gruesome outcome of these poor animals.

This supports the facts that not only are horse owners complacent but we have help in being that way. We have an excuse for not knowing, not helping, looking the other way and not protecting our own. The news media gives it to us. Well, not anymore if you are reading this article.

Keep in mind that the five horses taken in full view of a witness that September day in Florida included:

1. A 1,300-pound stout palomino gelding
2. A chocolate brown Shetland pony stallion with flaxen mane and tail
3. A dark bay mare with an injured hip and a limp
4. A blue roan paint mare with large dark spots
5. and Aregano’s Paintaloosa mare, brown and white in the front half with small brown spots on the white rear end area and four white stockings

This brings me to the reason I have written this article about this horse and her owner. What if no one cared enough to help Aregano? What if we all assumed the worst and assumed that Shilo had fallen into the butcher’s hands. What if we all looked the other way when it came time to help the victim? Well, that didn’t happen. Stolen Horse International is happy to report that Shilo, horse number five above, is home!

Sometimes it is best to hear it from the horse’s mouth, which in this case is Judy Aregano. Her touching story follows.

An Unexpected Happy Ending

During Labor Day weekend 2009, my Paintaloosa mare was stolen from a pasture with four other horses.

I was there when she was born and raised her. I broke her to ride myself. Though I loved my other horses, Shilo and I shared a bond. When the theft occurred, we were in the middle of a move to a farm with 35 acres, finally a home for all of my horses.
I had put off moving the last horses due to my work schedule, and then we got the phone call. Shilo and four others had been stolen from the pasture where they were kept. I was in shock. What do we do?

Terry, my boyfriend, left to meet the police at the pasture. I stayed behind, calling everyone to watch for her. My daughter Brittany emailed her friends and someone quickly emailed us back insisting that we register with

I had never heard of but was willing to try anything. Brittany filed the report on Shilo. Before I knew it we were getting emails from all over the country … NOT just Florida but all over the USA! People had seen the flyer on! They were expressing their heartfelt feelings and support and telling me they were posting the flyer of Shilo in barns and feed stores, everywhere! I was so overwhelmed.

A few days later, we had sightings of her being moved to south Florida, possibly because some one had seen the flyer. I had eyes all over the country looking for her. My friend Marylou put me in contact with a special lady in Miami. She is active in ending the slaughter of horses in south Florida. I can't divulge too much info about her. To protect her identity, I’ll call her “Jane.”

I emailed her the flyer. Jane began the search, constantly keeping Marylou (who forwarded it to me) informed of any leads. Then one day, Marylou received an email and in it was a picture of a Paintaloosa mare that had been moved to a barn in Homestead, Florida (over 250 miles away from home). She forwarded it to me.

Could it be Shilo? It looked like her ... but different. She had been body clipped very close and her mane had been roached. The black in her two-tone colored tail had been pulled out and her tail had been cut short. Then I recognized a shield on her side even though the picture was taken at an angle. It was her!

I was frantic! Crying, I called Marylou. “It’s her!” I shouted into the phone.

Phone calls were quickly made, but we had to continue to be so careful. We were to travel to Homestead quietly. They might move her if they know were coming.

We met at the barn, still trying to remain calm. I had come so far. Was this really her? Brittany and I walked around the corner of the barn and there stood Shilo. I cried. Jane cried. Brittany cried.

It had been a long journey. Jane informed us that Shilo would not approach anyone. Yet when Brittany and I approached the fence and called her name, Shilo walked over to us and laid her head on Brittany’s shoulder.

We called the Agriculture deputies and they were on the site in just moments. Deputy Debra carried a notebook of stolen horses with her. She opened it and there was Shilo’s poster from and many more that she has saved from’s IDAHO Alert network.

Within hours, Shilo was loaded on Marylou's trailer going home.

I cannot express enough my gratitude to NetPosse, Jane, and the Deputies in Dade County. You will always be in my heart.

For those of you have lost your friend don't give up hope. Shilo’s story was posted in many horse magazines and newspapers because of NetPosse. She was a needle in a haystack. Good luck to those who are still searching. You are in my prayers. ~ Judy Aregano

The Nonprofit is Here to Help Horse Owners

At Stolen Horse International/, we love happy endings like the one above, but we must continue to caution you to keep in mind that the happy new year of 2010 has begun but that doesn’t mean all is well with many people trying to survive the recession, or the common horse industry, thief. Because of the ‘risk vs. reward’ nature of horse and tack theft and the potential for greater monetary gain at the end of the day - it is easy for someone to be drawn to stealing when they are down on their luck.

Take steps now so that you don’t become the next victim.

And on a personal note to all of the news media who have reported stories about horse theft and its many victims … THANK YOU! You are one of the very important stepping stones in the recovery of horses, public awareness and the preventative process. Never underestimate the power you have to make a difference, in a positive manner, through your stories.

© 2010 Debi Metcalfe -  All rights reserved. This article is available for publication but you must have permission to publish in any format or medium. Please contact Debi Metcalfe at for additional information.