Thursday, December 31, 2009

I need your thoughts on Why SHI charges a fee for our services

To: My Blog Followers:

In the beginning before there was a large group of caring people to help victims search for their horses, there were three women. These three women bounced ideas back and forth, supported each other and offered support to me along with constructive criticism. They were my sounding board in many ways. Eventually and a nonprofit called Stolen Horse International was born from the comradely we shared. They went on to do other things, but are still supportive of I stayed and work every day of my life keeping SHI/NetPosse alive.

This blog is in its infancy much like Stolen Horse International was way back before we knew it was even going to be Stolen Horse International. I hope that some of you in my small group of bloggees (is that a word?) will offer me the same support as those three women did years ago when I ask.

Recently I have been offering our assistance to UK victims via message boards post, and at times offering a free listing to the victims. Today on one of those message boards I received this message which said, “You should also be advising people that there is a registration fee to report a horse stolen.”
I was scratching my head on that one. I was not sure how to take the message as words and emotions are often interpreted differently between the person posting and the reader. I sat and thought about this for a moment. This person may have thought that I was deceptive or thought we were just out for financial gain. Clearly they didn’t understand what stands behind that small fee.

Would you be so kind as to offer your opinion on my response please? I was trying to explain our organization, our services in an educational matter of fact way. Did I accomplish that task?

You are now my sounding board and your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks to all who reply.

Why SHI charges a fee for our services

Thank you for giving me the chance to address your concern. Yes, there is a very small fee. We are a nonprofit that is supported by these small fees and donations. No one is paid in this organization and it is run by all volunteers. I personally work more that 50 hours a week, in the office. On weeks that I travel to trade shows and do seminars where I am working around the clock the hours are even higher.

These fees are necessary to pay our bills and to keep our doors open so that we can provide help to victims and our educational services to horse owners. We do not have grants or government funding. We do not have advertisers who pay our expenses. We have to find our own way to make ends meet.
This fee does two things:

1) As stated above, it helps us pay the bills we have in our mail box each week. We are a business and like any business we have to pay electric, Internet, website cost, insurance, office supplies, travel, cost of supplies, maintenance, dues, contractual services (Ex: accountant and computer services)etc. We have all of the expenses applicable to any business. Just because we are a nonprofit business doesn't mean that we are exempt from bill payments and that everything is given to us free. However, some people are confused or perhaps don't think about it and tend to think that we do get everything free; therefore we should not charge for our services. All of the money we collect goes 100% back into keeping our doors open, victim’s services and our many educational programs.

2) The second purpose for the fee is to help keep dishonest people from filing false reports. I have been doing this since my own horse was stolen in 1997. I have seen and heard it all and nothing surprises me anymore. We use to pass along emails and list horses for free a long time ago about stolen horses. The more people found us the more we learned the harsh truth about a small percentage of the people, some people lie. Since we started charging the fee we have had very few cases where people are not telling the truth. Dishonest people in general do not want to pay to distribute their fabrications.

It is rare that a person who has a stolen or missing horse even thinks about the fee, especially since it is so small. We did a poll a few years ago and one of our questions asked if the fee was justifiable. The response was totally in support of the fee. Most thought the fee was to low for the work that we do and the help that victims received. All thought that if a person who could not afford to pay $25 for the huge benefit they received may not even need the horse back. The comment that was made most was, "If they can't afford this small fee how can they afford to have a horse?"

I am a victim of theft myself and I would have gladly paid any fee, let alone a small $25 fee like the one here at Stolen Horse International that may do any the following but is not limited to this list alone:

1. Allows listing not only one but two horses for that price.

2. Gives you your own personal webpage with as many pictures as you want to place on the page.

3. A professional looking printable flyer to be distributed through IDAHO ALERTS. A link will be placed on your personal page so anyone can print as many flyers as they wish from anywhere in the world.

4. Your information is not just sitting on a webpage waiting to be found by people who stumble upon the information. An IDAHO ALERT, named after our stolen horse, is sent to thousands of email boxes, first through our NetPosse volunteers who send the alert to their friends and associations who send the alert to theirs and so on and so on. With the help of the victim we also try to pinpoint areas of concentrations to distribute the alerts.

5. Your info will also be included in one or more of our newsletters using the email service Constant Contact, a professional service (another expense) which reaches thousands.

6. If the information we request is sent to us we also do press releases which are sent to all of the AHP, (horse world version of the AP service) which may lead to the victims exposure on more websites and magazines. (By the way, this is another one of our expenses. There is a fee to join this service)

7. Consultations: Need to talk to someone who has been there already? You may call us for help.

8. Experience and support from people who have been in your shoes, work in law enforcement, legal services etc.

9. Currently the stolen, missing, lost and fond listings are administrated by three primary people, allowing a personal touch to each case.

10. Nothing is hidden, not even the fee on our site.

We have worked hard to accomplish what we have in the horse industry. Our reputation is above reproach and we do try hard to keep it that way. I understand that you may not trust me so I invite you to Google Stolen Horse International, NetPosse or Debi Metcalfe and to get to know us better.

I hope this addresses your statement successfully.


Any thoughts? You can post a comment here or email me privately at

Saturday, December 26, 2009

When My Mother Called Out the Posse in the NY Times

I was so glad to see this article about a woman, her horse and a family that touched me in many ways both during the search for her horses and after her death. What a beautiful tribute to Carolyn. This is such a sweet story that you really should not miss it, even if you don't have horses. It was an honor to meet this lady and so sad when she passed away. Instead of flowers her family asked that people send donations to Stolen Horse International. No one had ever done anything like that before. The kindness of the Lawniczak family has helped so many, and her legacy continues in this article. You may want to visit our NetPosse page with out tribute and the original info on Murph and Sunday after you read the article below

December 27, 2009

Modern Love

When My Mother Called Out the Posse


MY mother called to tell me that her horses had been stolen. The year was 2005, not 1885, and the place was central Florida, not South Dakota. So my first reaction was, “Horse rustling? Really, Mom?”

But it was no joke. As my parents had pieced together that morning from footprints, tire tracks and fence damage, the horses really had been stolen. During the night, thieves had parked a trailer on Interstate 75, several hundred feet from my parents’ farm. They then climbed the steep embankment, clipped open a wire fence, sawed through several boards and headed straight to the closest barn.

Inside, they found an aging, slope-backed quarter horse named Sunday and a small Haflinger named Murph, grabbed the two by the halters and took off with them in the trailer.

My mother was apoplectic. These horses were her wards, two among nine in her barn at the time, and she had let them down. “Why us?” she asked, the timeless question of victims.

Murph and Sunday were not riding horses, and I didn’t see how they could be remotely valuable to thieves, except maybe on some black market where old horses are sold into a grisly end. Their fate, to me, was obvious. Although I spoke encouraging words from Chicago, I didn’t believe my mother’s beloved horses stood a chance.

The previous year my parents had moved from rural Michigan to Ocala, Fla., rolling land dotted with thoroughbred farms and strip malls. The chill of the Northern winters had become more than they could bear, and this was a new beginning in their last phase of life. They bought five affordable acres that had once been part of a larger farm before developers hacked it up and built large houses on every lot except my parents’.

Their 12-stall barn was attached to a one-bedroom living quarters. On the property in Michigan where I’d grown up, the horse barn had been 600 feet away. Now barn and house were under the same roof — my mother’s utopia.

Her horses ranged in age from 10 to over 30, ancient for equines, but once my mother welcomed a horse into her barn, a lifelong commitment began. No one could care for them as well as she. Her three sons would grow up and leave; the horses, and my father, would stay.

After months of tireless redecoration of their new place, the wallpaper, wainscoting, paintings, coasters, shelves, pillows, bedspreads, candy dishes, area carpets, toilet seats and even the light switches all depicted equestrian themes: cowboys, jumping thoroughbreds, fox hunters, grazing palominos, frolicking appaloosas. Many of the objects were gifts from her sons. Hers was an easy birthday.

After the theft, I received daily updates. My mother contacted authorities at all levels and provided them with photographs of the animals. The state police would no doubt put their best men on it, I cynically thought. She worked up a flier with an urgent plea. A reward was offered.

My youngest brother and his family, also recent arrivals to Ocala, helped staple the fliers to nearly every phone pole, fencepost and bulletin board within a 10-mile radius. A skeptic of the Internet, my mother found, of all things, a Web site dedicated to rescuing stolen horses, With the help of my brother, she posted her entreaty online, with images of Sunday and Murph.

Then she took to the airwaves. A local television news crew arrived the following week to film footage at the crime scene. In the report that was broadcast, the reporter began by recounting the sad story in a voice-over as my father led a horse from barn to paddock. Then my mother appeared on the sofa dressed in Western attire, her dark hair neatly combed, holding framed photographs of Sunday and Murph on her lap. She sat straight, perceptively self-conscious, as she described the horses and how much she missed them. She was never a person who invited attention, and I could think of little else that would enticed her before a camera.

I praised her efforts, as futile as I believed them to be.

When my brothers and I were children, my mother taught us to ride until we reached the point where we needed, or thought we needed, professional instruction. We rode Western style, like cowboys, and most summer weekends the family piled into our Suburban and hauled the trailer to horse shows throughout the “thumb” of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. A three-day show at the county fairgrounds was an annual ritual, the five of us sleeping in a rented motor home, the horses tied up in a nearby pole barn.

It is not easy keeping horses. The beasts are helpless in captivity. Every morning my father faithfully rose at 5 for two hours of watering, feeding and cleaning the stalls. Later they had to be fed again, some let out, others let in. And then there was the evening feeding and cleaning. This Sisyphean existence was my parents’ life for decades. We sons helped at times, but my father bore the brunt, never complaining. He lived to do it for her.

As a grumpy adolescent, fed up with the chores, frustrated we couldn’t take a normal vacation or join a country club, I would occasionally turn to one of my brothers and say, “She’s crazy, you know.”

I stopped riding when I was 16. Cars, girls, sports, whatever the teenage distraction, I lost interest, and my horse life all but ended. How much it ended became clear several years ago when my wife and I hired a guide and two horses and went trail riding in the Colorado Rockies.

All we did was sit and walk, not even trot, over a mountain pass. It was nothing compared with what I used to do, what my mother still did every day, and yet at the end of the trail I nearly collapsed in pain when I dismounted. My legs had lost all facility with the saddle. I hobbled for days.

Weeks passed in the search for Murph and Sunday. My mother’s daily reports stopped coming. As I had already concluded, she had little reason for hope.

Then one day, a month after the nighttime theft, my mother called, ecstatic. “We found them!”

That morning a local sheriff had called to say that state officials had raided a run-down farm 100 miles away and discovered a dozen or so horses loose in a field. One of the agents recognized Murph from the photographs my mother had distributed.

Apparently, the state had put its best men on it.

My first thought was that if I had been in my mother’s place, Sunday and Murph would have spent their final days malnourished, mistreated, unloved and on the fast track to becoming dog food.

She hung up and raced to the truck and trailer with my father. It was late afternoon, but she was determined to bring them home right away. They drove 200 miles and returned early the next morning for the reunion. She later reported to me that when she released Sunday back into the stall with his mother, Gypsy, she bit him on the shoulder.

I’m sure my mother had hoped for an amorous whinny, a rubbing of necks, a nibbling of ears, or something from a horse’s scant repertory of physical affection. But she laughed it off, for she had her own relationship with them whether they liked each other or not.

A year later, my mother was thrown from her show gelding. She had been loping in the paddock when he shied and stopped unexpectedly. She slid along his withers and fell 16 hands to the ground and broke her femur just below the hip. All her life she had seen dangers lurking everywhere — tall buildings, bridges, tunnels — but the risks of cantering atop a tall steed seemed to elude her.

I spoke to her often on the phone while she recovered. With several pins and screws holding her bone together, she was sleeping at night in the reclining chair because she could not lie in bed comfortably. At first she was restricted to plodding around in a walker, and then with a cane, until months later when she was able to get along with only a slight limp.

During what would turn out to be our last conversation, she told me she was almost ready to ride again. But days later, while standing at the kitchen sink, singing a song in her decorated environs, her horses nearby and my father in the next room, she collapsed.

She was 68, too young. The doctors said it was most likely a heart attack or a clot. For people her age, a risk of surgery — the surgery she needed because she was thrown from the horse — is blood clotting.

AFTER the funeral, my father dispersed the herd. One local couple had a large fenced front yard and wanted to wake up to the sight of grazing horses. That’s where Sunday and Gypsy went, weaned but eternally together. Another family wanted a trail horse for the kids. The show gelding was sold to a young girl. My brother took Murph and the others. We’ll never know whether my mother would have approved of the disposition, but without her there, none of it made sense anymore.

After the death of a parent, one reflects upon life because, inescapably, it makes you consider your own and forces you to take stock. And the question I kept asking myself was this: What would it be like to have what my mother had?

As I came to appreciate over the years, especially near the end, she wasn’t crazy. She was passionate, driven by love and the kind of irrational dedication that vanquishes your fears, fills your days, wrests you out of bed in the wee hours, convinces you that standing ankle-deep in a stall of fetid sawdust is the only place you want to be, and gives you the faith that, no matter the odds, if you try hard enough, if you make the effort, you can save a life.

Life has given me much over the years for which I am extremely thankful, but I don’t have that.

Brandon Lawniczak is a lawyer in Chicago.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Can Be The "Santa" that Puts the Present Under the Tree

We had another stolen horse report come in last night from AL. How dare it do that right when I am in the midst of our annual eBay fundraiser... actually it is more like a STORM that has lasted since the day before Thanksgiving!

We are here to help our victims and in true form Angela and I stopped all of the painstaking work you never see behind the scenes (that is another blog in itself) of the auction and jumped head first into the journey to get Sonny home.

Within in a few hours his alert was sent to thousands via email, message boards and social networking sites. We will contine to work on this one for days just getting out the information. One of the many responses to our alert came from someone who innocently thought they could not help and got me all stirred up this morning.

It is human to error and believe me I have plenty of them to prove it. So when I saw the remark on this message board I jumped on my educational soapbox quick. (It is a soapbox isn't it?)

My response was meant to make people think. Did I accomplish my task? And like this entire blog, it is unedited and retains all of the grammatical mistakes I am known for since I have little time to write, much less edit my own work. But then I am really not capable of editing or I would write correctly the first time hmmm... I am off track... I do that. Oops! is the response.

Yes, Barrel Horse World, the link to find Sonny could be on this group! You could be the "Santa" that puts the right present under the tree this year. But not if you think, "I am too far away to post flyers" like most people do because you really don't understand the dynamics behind the travels of stolen horses.

Now it is time for me to do one of the things I do best, educate. I hope everyone will take a moment to read my commentary which is based on years of working with stolen horses here at

Weekendgambler, I understand where you are coming from on that thought. I once thought the same as you did. I don't anymore and thank you for opening up this topic for me to discuss.

I am not sure where you are but at this point there is really no such thing as too far away unless you are out of the US, Canada or Mexico. My horse went up and down the eastern seaboard between NC and PA and then ended up in TN in less than 6 months. We found her in TN 51 weeks after she was found.

Here are a few others that we have worked with over the years.

  • A CA horse ended up in CT.
  • A CT horse ended up in TX. 
  • A CO horse ended up in NE.
  • A GA horse ended up in NC
  • A CA horse ended up in OR
  • A NH horse ended up in ME
  • A MO horse went KY before it was recovered in IA.
  • An OK horse went to TX and back to OK in 4 days.
  • A Can. horse was found in CO
  • A FL trailer was found in TX
And last but not least there is Max, an IL barrel horse who ended up in MO. We only wonder where that little guy went in the 58 weeks he was missing. Aren't we thankful that the little girl who posted that flyer didn't think she was too far away to help?

Who knows where those horses have been before they were found. Sometimes horses do stay in the same state and they are usually found within 500 miles of where they are stolen. And yes, sometimes they are found just a few miles away but as you can see, when a horse is gone it can be anywhere in the world in a short time.

I know it is easy to think you can't help if you are not familiar with the "stolen horse world" like we are, but please assume that Sonny could be near you instead of the opposite scenario. If you don't, we just may miss bringing this one home.

Finding these missing horses is really all about networking and people participating in random acts of kindness.

Go to the site right now.  and print a flyer and post at your local tack store horse or horse auction.

Pass this message with the alert link,  to all the people you know and ask them to do the same. You never know who they know or who their friends do.

It's the season for giving, and in this case it is only a little of your time, so lets try to get Sonny home in time for Christmas.

And to all who do anything large or small, thank you more than you know.

Happy Holidays


PS: Sonny's trailer, pictured R., was taken with him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I haven't blown away!

You may think that I have given up writing in this blog or that I have blown away or something. Neither are true, especially the latter with all of the eating I have been doing in preparation for Thanksgiving and since T-day.

I have been eating way too much and way too often lately. I am guessing that might have something to do with the stress and time deadline I am under to get the 5th annual Stolen Horse International fundraising auction launched.

Stolen Horse International is truly run by family and friends and is truly a mom and pop (Harold and I are the mom and pop) organization that has grown into a small corporation that does huge things for horse people. None of which we could do without family, friends and the kindness of strangers around the world.
Angela and her daughter are up from Alabama to help get the “show on the road” and we have been working day and night since last Monday. Harold has pitched in the weights and measurements department. My son Casey has been doing some driving for Harold to go out and collect local items for the auction. Angela’s daughter has been sending out announcements on the Internet. But mostly, it had been me and Angela working from sometimes four in the morning until late at night.

What are we doing you wonder? Why does it take so long? Well, let me give you a very short run down because I really need to get back to work.

All of the items that are donated have to have descriptions recorded, and in some cases found again. Once that is done they have to be sorted by category, tagged so Harold and Casey can find them for shipping later, photographed and then put on a shelf to wait for their journey to the new owner.

After that the item has to have an ad on and then listed on eBay. I have a story about that but I will get to it later.

Angela and I work together like a two person assembly line on this task. She is writing the descriptions, looking up information on the items that we need but didn’t get from the donors, finding values, website addresses etc, and putting them into a Word doc and some on the website, before passing them off to me.

Once she completed all of the items she had been working on (except the new tack) she started helping me list them on eBay because of the problems we were having on my desk with putting the data in the computers. The items have to be individually boxed and carefully weighed and measured before we can input the data on eBay. Ebay calculates shipping from those measurements so if you have large postage fees, IT’S NOT US doing the calculations! It’s eBay!
In between all of the listing we still have still had to check emails, answer the phone and sadly on Thanksgiving Eve, send out a stolen pony alert.

This process alone has been a nightmare this auction season because of my slow Internet connection and slow computer combo. Many times I have pushed my chair away from the desk and said, “That’s it, I am not doing this anymore! This is driving me nuts!” Try looking at two white screens side by side from two computers and waiting for them to load a webpage for what seems like hours all day long. It does something to this person. It is driving me to the nuthouse for sure!

I don’t know what is wrong with the computers but I see a big bill ahead finding out why they are sometimes sick. You know those geek doctors don’t come cheap!

We spent hours with a sweet Time Warner guy on Friday. He even called in reinforcements and all the while valuable time is slipping by and items are not going up on eBay. While he was here I was working on the third computer, my trusty laptop trying to get a few things done in-between the intermittent Internet connection. After a while it too was inflicted with the same sickness as the two computers at my desk and its loading screens turned to white for a while.

Even with all the problems Angela, who has not had the problems as much on her computer, and I trudge onward. Our goal is to finish listing what we have submitted for the auction today. More will come later, thankfully it always does. Once people see the many great items we have in the auction they want to become a part of it too.

Auction donations, most of which I have collected by foot, phone and emails, have come from companies, trainers, strangers, NetPosse members and even an old school friend for whom I connected with recently on Facebook. I must thank of course Angela, but also Sonya who has kept us busy for hours listing her many donated items and Michelle who walked the floors at a tradeshow hunting items for us. She did it very well too!

There have been a few nonworking moments during the past six days. We went to see Blind Side Tuesday night. I recommend that movie to everyone! We did find some time to enjoy Thanksgiving Day and have a wonderful meal prepared at home by Angela, Harold, Casey and myself. Angela photographed my family for our upcoming Christmas picture. Getting my two grown children who still act like kids when together, in one place with the parents and three dogs, one a 12 month old huge chocolate Lab puppy was a trick in itself.

Last night we took the biggest and most needed break after working from four in the morning, we went out to eat seafood and came home to play Wii tennis.

I am very thankful for Harold who is not making me cheese toast and will soon lay it on my desk sitting on top of a paper towel. I hear the ice dropping into a glass from the refrigerator so I know my diet coke is on its way. Well there it is now, “Thanks honey.” He is the best isn’t he and no, you can’t have him!

I am thankful for Angela far more than she can ever know. She is my rock, the person who keeps me sane in this crazy stolen horse world, the organizer and much more. God gave me a gift when he dropped her into my life.

Angela would be a whole blog so I have to stop now because at this point we still have close to close to 100 items to list somewhere between the website and eBay. So, I guess you know what is coming next. It is time to get back to work!

I think my computers, like me are overworked and tired but they are hanging in there with me. Neither of us has crashed yet. Oh my gosh, let me find some wood quick! Knock, knock, knock on wood!

What is the name of the song that has those words in it? OH NO! I will be trying to figure that one out all day too!

I know I am late but here is my belated Happy Thanksgiving and my wish for a very happy holiday season to come.

Mine will be when I finish this darn auction!

PS: This blog entry was written fast and without editing because I need to get back to work!

PSS for Christi: I have not forgotten you. My heart is breaking for you over the loss of your mother on Wednesday. You and your family are in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers. I know that she will be happy with your father in heaven and will smile down upon you. God bless you all in this time of mourning for your tremendous loss.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Does This Really Happen?

“Here is an attachment of the stolen Spotted Saddle Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse. Please feel free to post on Facebook, if you have that talent...I am not talented! It has taken all night all day to do this...I can't imagine what Debi and Harold Metcalfe go through each and every day!”
What you have just read was sent to me in one of my emails yesterday. Before I answer the question I must first tell you about the person from which the question came.

I actually met this little spit fire NetPosse member this past July at a clinic in Georgia in which she hosted. She cares so much about her horses that she not only wanted to protect them by getting them microchipped and freeze branded that she decided to do it herself. And she did this for the first time in front of an audience! Now that is gutsy! She is my kind of woman! No fear!

Meet NetPosse Sonya!

She has been very helpful in the past with various tasks that I needed done for NetPosse and for the victims. Every alert that is sent to her is sent to her own contacts. It did not surprise me when she not only made the first contact to me about a recent theft in her state but, she has been working right with the victim up close and personal ever since. I can’t tell you what a help she has been.

Sonya has learned her lessons well from the examples set forth by me, Angela, Michelle and countless other volunteers that have come before her. The email excerpt below shows just how hard Sonya is working.

“The TV station is finally meeting with the owner after a week. Tomorrow, the Sheriff's Dept. may show up as they promised again for the 5 or 6th time? A newspaper is doing an article, because I spoke to a girl whose 1st horse was stolen by her trainer. So see what God does....and Thank You!”

Sonya is responsible for getting the report filed. She is responsible for helping the victim get her pictures emailed to us for the website. She paid for the listing. She is responsible for getting the news media involved. She has been sending me updates. She has been rallying her troops to help find this horse like it was her own. Below is an example of one of the dozens of emails that she has sent since her first email telling me about the stolen horse.

Sonya said in one email, “I have 60 fliers ready for the owner to pass out as well as me and I only barely know how you feel...good Lord! So what can I do as a slow satellite girl? This was an interesting chore. But, now it is the wait. That is the hard part and then, once you get it in ...does the wait matter? The TV channel is interviewing her due to pressure from the horse community here.”

It was after three days of working night and day, attacking the many task that are involved in the first few days after a horse is stolen that Sonya wrote to me the following email with exasperation in her voice asking, (Yes, I can hear emotion in the words typed in front of me.)

“I may vent here. I called to see how the afternoon went with trying to locate her horse in Cuthbert. I told her to start contacting the auction houses and asking for fax # and then, send a fax of the flyer. She said she had called the one in Alabama. Not any of the others. She was at a Field Trial and could not call at the moment?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....etc. Grr Does this happen often?”

What she is really wants to know is when I work this hard for someone to help them find their horse, is it often that it seems like I am working harder or care more about getting the horse back than the owner?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is sometimes, yes. The owner of this horse was at a field trial today, just a few days after her horse was stolen. Would I have been there? It is hard to say since I really don’t know the circumstances in which she had to be there. I do know from my own personal experience that it you would have dragged me kicking and screaming to any event other than something where I could pass out flyers and enlist help in finding Idaho. Perhaps that is why she was there?

Still, I know Sonya had to be wondering at some point after loosing sleep and constantly thinking about what she could do next to help; is it worth all the work? Poor thing is on slowwwwwwwwwwwwwww satellite internet too. I chuckled as I pictured her sitting in the study pecking away at the keys, reminiscence of my early days on dial up.

“I feel for you because I have been sitting at the satellite computer...with clouds wanting to kill it, but being patient because I am on a mission!”

I know computer problems and am doing this blog for the second time because my desktop seemed to have a mind of its own tonight. And in its mind it didn’t like what I was writing the first time and decided to shut down AOL and POOF it was gone! I actually liked the first one better and have not found the same words for this rewrite.
My mind is wandering and I need to get back to the subject. But first, now that I am thinking about it I have to say this and get it out of my system in regards to my dear desktop. &^%$#@!!!!! @#$%^!!!

Cleansing breath…………………………………………………………………….

Now it is out of my system. I can continue. Where was I? Oh yes, work at NetPosse.

The hours here are long and tiring and sleep is something that eludes me way to often. I stay up late unable to wind down. I get up early because the thought swirling in my head demand my attention more than the pillow top beneath me. The phone rings off and on all day with people asking questions I have heard many times. I treat each one as if it were the first time I heard their questions.

I spend my entire day checking emails, answering the ones I can and setting aside the others for later, hoping I don’t forget them. There are reports to follow up on with victims and law enforcement officers. There are articles to write and interviews with the news media. Some of my other duties include marketing and accounting for which I am really under skilled. I twitter and check my Facebook. I spend hours processing on IDAHO Alert.

There is also my travel schedule which includes many task before I even turn the key in the ignition in my car to leave the house. Task like setting the event, planning my presentation if I am speaking, planning and gathering the materials for the booth, making DVD to play in the booth, buying and packaging products, packing the car, shipping materials ahead of me when I fly, packing my suitcase and packing Harold, (yes ladies some things never change). Let’s not forget that when Harold goes with me then we have to find care for my mother-in-law Nell.

One of the biggest and hardest tasks of any nonprofit is finding the funding to continue the work that is done. We are no different and this recession has made it even harder to find the dollars and fundraisers to acquire the much needed funding. If I could just find someone to do all the other things or someone to just take over the fundraising I may find time to ride my own horse again.

If you don’t know me you may think I was complaining about all the work. True some days are good ones and some aren’t so good. I do get disillusioned at times but it is all worth it to me. You see, I love this job.

I didn’t ask for it nor would I have chose to work the hours I do. But, I love seeing people benefit from the educational programs we have set forth for a decade. I love seeing random acts of kindness that would not have occurred had it not been for the theft of one horse in 1997, Idaho. I love working with enthusiastic volunteers like Sonya, who has learned so much and is so caring and unselfish.

I love the good people that I meet. I love solving problems with Angela and hearing her input. I love Michelle’s ability to answer questions on my behalf because she has volunteered so long that like Angela, this small nonprofit has become part of her soul.

In a days time I can see the worst of people and the best of people. I can be disappointed, mad and happy in the same period of time.

Why do this job if it is so hard? Because, when an email drops in my box announcing another recovery or I get a phone call like the one from Keith Caughran who found Max after 58 weeks, there is no feeling like the one that flows over my body in that moment. I have no words for that moment but I can tell you this, it is as if my whole body is smiling. Now that is a mighty big smile indeed.

At the end of the day when I do drop in bed exhausted I know that on this day I, Debi Metcalfe, made a difference. And because of all the good I witness, I never underestimate the power of one.

And to you Sonya, this week you became that ONE in a big way. Thank you. :-) I hope you stick around!

Now, on 11/1/2009 at 2:06 AM I am going to drop on my pillow top.

Good night and thanks for listening.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thank you for your comments

 I have figured out how to post a photograph though! Aren't I smart? :-) Not really because I had to ask for help. I felt like an idiot because the photo insert button was right in front of my face the whole time. I think even Idaho could have figured that one out!


Now if I could figure out how to respond to the comments that have been sent to me I would thank the ones who have sent them! I am guessing there is a way to repond to those comments but at this time that little step eludes me. Or did I respond and forget how I did it before? Someone please help me figure this one out.

I am off to fix soup for dinner!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ramblings at the end of the day….

It has been another busy day here in stolen horse land. I woke up early, put my robe on and wobbled down the hallway to the computer and turned it on. I then went to the kitchen and flipped on the light and glanced up at the clock expecting it to say 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.

I thought I was awfully sleepy and as I blinked my eyes and studied the clock I knew why! IT WAS 2:30! I flipped off the light and wobbled back down the hall, dropping my robe off as I went. I was really trying hard not to wake myself up too much, hopeful that I would fall back to sleep.

I did doze a little but at 6:00 a.m. I was on the keyboard. I am soooooo tired of this phase of my life. I am sure the women here know what I mean if you have any age on you. I am hot. I am cold. I am hot and cold at the same time. Part of me is sweating and part of me is freezing.

And Sleep? What is that? I only want to sleep until I shut my eyes and then I am awake! Bedtime looks good every night to me around 7 o’clock. I know that if I go to bed at that time that I will surely be awake for the night by 12 o’clock. It is an never ending cycle it seems. How long does this last?

I did many task today but finally I spent a fair amount of time working on auction donations for our upcoming annual auction. I talked with Pat Roberts and she confirmed they had already sent something to us from Monty.

We have lots of used Parelli stuff thanks to Sonya’s donation. Thank you Sonya!

I did contact the Parelli organization today to see if I can get something from Pat and Linda that will be autographed. I usually pick it up personally at an expo but we have not shared any together this year.

Angie, from sent in her form today and she is donating a hand painted plate. She is the one that did the beautiful floor art rug with Idaho as a theme two years ago. It was stunning so I am looking forward to the plate!

Each year I get to walk on the rug at Helge and Holly’s (theft victims who had their horses found from a NetPosse flyer) house in Ohio as they are the proud owners of the hand painted rug.

While I am on the subject of this family I would like to introduce you to one of my best parts of this job, meet truly amazing people. In this case they are all in one family. Our paths crossed first in November of 2002. Their horses Midnight and Blackjack were stolen from their barn one night while the entire family was sleeping just a few yards away. After contacting us our IDAHO ALERTS were sent out and their horses were recovered a week later from because of the alert, the work of a volunteer and a flyer.

This one moment in the life of our two families that share an experience that thank goodness most will never know, the theft of our horses as linked us together as friends, I hope forever.

Harold and I stay with them each year on Sunday night after the Ohio Equine Affaire is over. We travel back to NC through KY just so we can stop by their house. It is like going home to family each year when we return to the “H” house in which Helge, Holly, Hannah, Houston and Holt live. From the moment we arrive in their driveway we feel like family. Each person in this family is so very special to us.

Holly makes the best soup and we always look forward to the surprise in the pot when we arrive. One year she had spaghetti and although it was great we secretly were a little disappointed that it wasn’t homemade soup. As we turned in that night in their “tree” bed we even discussed how much we missed her soup. We never told her but if she ever reads this I guess she will know now.

One of the things we love most when we visit, other than the soup of course is the moment when we sit down to eat. Holly will not let us help as the entire family pitches in to put the meal on the table; the soup pot is always in the middle of the round table.

Once we are all seated a blessing is said. I must admit sneaking a peak once during the blessing and what I saw what could have been inspiration for a Norman Rockwell painting. The “H” family with their heads bowed, steam coming from the pot as they listened to the words of the blessing seemed more like a family from the 50’s or 60’s at that moment to me; a family that eats together and takes the time to sit around the table and discuss their day. It brings a smile to my face even now as I visualize the scene once more.

For two meals out of each year I feel like I have watched the children grow up before me. Hannah is now 18 and has lived through her first bad auto accident. We were there the year she started driving! She seemed so small the first year we arrived in 2003. Houston is following his father Helge’s example and is beginning to become a wonderful horse trainer just like his dad. Holt, the youngest who is now four, is all over the place and is very much the ham in the family. Holly, who I believe is the center of the famiy, God bless her, juggles the schedules of her children, her volunteer work with unwed mothers and her many duties at church. Helge, who is from Swedish decent (but doesn’t have blonde hair), always seems a little tired but his smile lights up a room. It is clear that his family looks up to him for strength as well as guidance.

I forgot to mention Grandpa, Helge’s father who has Alzheimer’s disease and stays with Holly several days a week. Between Grandpa and Harold’s mother Nell, who also suffers from the same disease we have much to talk about. If you live with someone who has this disease I hope you are able to find some humor to help you deal with the obvious sadness that envelopes your love one and your family. We often find ourselves rolling with laughter over the antics of these two. It helps us cope.

I know I started out telling you about my day. My intent was to discuss the auction and some of the items we have coming up for you. But, I got sidetracked. I hope you didn’t mind too much.

Now back to the auction….If you have anything around your house that you would like to donate to the auction we need items badly this year. I have been working so hard that I have not been able to get the donations that I have in the past.

We had to cut back on the number of horse expos I attended this year too which is where I picked up many of the donations. Why? Because of the dramatic drop in monetary donations, I think because of the recession.

Thank you Christi for you monthly donation. I wish more would do the same. You help keep us afloat more than you know! And than you Michelle, “T” and Stephen for going booth to booth at the Ohio Equine Affaire and getting so much great stuff!

I have a little more work to do now. Once that is finished ….I’m off!

Goodnight! :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How did I get so lucky?

My day started early again. I set my cell phone last night to wake me at 6:30 a.m. although I highly suspected I would wake before that dreaded alarm. I hate the sound of any alarm other than the radio or the TV. Perhaps that is why I always wake up before one goes off? Hmmm....

Anyway, I did wake up at 6:06, stumbled to the bathroom and a short time later dropped back in bed. Once there thoughts of all the things I had to do before taking Harold to the ambulatory clinic raced in my head. Not being able to lay there any longer I threw back the covers, jumped out of bed, grabbed my housecoat to ward off the early morning chill in the house and wobbled to the computer in the den.

Does anyone else here wobble in the morning? I have found that the older I get the harder it is to get the body moving in a fluid motion once it has been sedimentary for a while. It doesn’t matter if I am getting out of bed or out of a chair. Things just don’t work like they use to. After a few minutes my steps return to their normal day-to-day rhythm, at least until I sit down again.

Mornings are my best time of the day. No one is up. The TV is off. The house is silent. I turn on the computers and listen to the hum of their motors as they boot to life. While they wake up I head to the kitchen, pull a glass out of the cabinet as I head to the refrigerator. I fill the glass full of crushed ice with one hand while opening the refrigerator door with the other and reach for the Diet Coke. I then walk back to the computers and start my day working for Stolen Horse International.

An hour or so will pass before I hear Harold stirring in the bedroom. His routine has become part of my routine. At some time after he walks into the kitchen he will emerge shortly thereafter with a piece of cheese toast on a paper towel, laying it carefully beside my right hand that is most likely glued to a mouse on my desk. There have been times when I was so busy that I forgot my morning drink. I know when he notices the absence of a glass on the desk that soon after he will arrive with a Diet Coke and toast (and on some days ceral). Many times I will not even stop or miss a beat at the keyboard but I always make a point to say thank you and give him a little kiss.

My routine is the same almost every morning, except this one. Today was a big day for Harold. Today he had cataract surgery on his right eye. We know cataract surgery is a piece of cake these days. It is an in and out procedure taking less than 20 minutes from the time you start rolling into the operating room to the time you are wheeled out. But for Harold, today meant he could come out seeing less than he did before surgery because of possible complications from a condition he has called Nukes Dystrophy (not sure of the spelling).

I am happy to report that all went well with the procedure, at least as far as we can tell so far. He couldn’t see as good as the thought he should and by the end of the business day he had worked himself into a tizzy. At 4:45 he announced he needed to go to the Steve’s office (the doctor is a friend of ours) and have him check his eye. I had to explain to him that unless our car sprouted wings and had jet propulsion we were not going to make it to Steve’s office by five and that perhaps he should call.

Tonight after talking with Steve and with his fears calmed, he finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I mean he really did! Just a little while ago he announced that he could finally see me and make out my features, something he has not been able to do all day.

So, what did I accomplish today for Stolen Horse International?
1. I answered some emails and weeded out some others on my Blackberry while at the clinic. I talked to Angela.

2. I bid on for a low price motel for November where we have a booth at the Massachusetts Equine Affaire. I got a great rate of $49 at a 2 ½ star motel! It has taken 5 days to find that rate. If you ever bid on you know the drill and know why it took me that long.

3. I sent out request letters for auction items.

4. I twittered to my NetPosse tweets.

5. I posted an article to the NetPosse list groups after surfing through the many Google alerts in my email account.

6. I went to Lowes to see if I could find some kind of way to make a low cost display saddle pad rack for our booth at the Equine Affaire. We will have both english and western saddle pads at the event.

7. I talked to Angela again about our upcoming auction and how we are going to get all of the work done that needs to be done.

8. I answered more emails.

9. I paid a few SHI bills.

Actually I didn’t accomplish as much as I usually do but I hope I took care of what needed taking care of the most, Harold. I have spent the day making sure he had everything he needed. This is a man who brings me a drink and something to eat every morning as I work! This is a man who supports what I do and on most days is right here with me working in one way or another. How did I get so lucky?

We will be off to the doctor’s office early in the morning. Hopefully we will have a good report.

As for right now….we’re off to bed.

Guess I'll set the Blackberry to alarm again. Ugh!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Travels tales of one tired ole woman

I have been trying to find the time to write my thoughts down but there just doesn't seem to be any. Over the last month I have traveled so much that I honestly can't remember where I have been. I have to look at my schedule to jog the old memory. I hope you can follow my rough timeline that follows and spans over a week and a half.

For example, Harold picked me up at the airport after my three day trip to Mississippi to speak at a law enforcement conference on a Wednesday. The next day I drove five hours to Myrtle Beach and stayed there until Monday. I started for home around 7:30 a.m. so I would have time to catch up on my work before Harold and I left on Wednesday to go to Freemont, Ohio.

Now keep in mind that I didn’t know until the night before I left that we were going to Ohio. I thought we were going to meet in the Kentucky office of the man we met with to discuss a project for When I did the Mapquest directions (I do this just in case Ms.Garmin gets lost) Tuesday night I realized for the first time where we were going!

Geeezzzz what a long trip! We left here around 7:30 a.m., took my mother-in-law (who has dementia) to the adult day care and off we drove to what seemed like the end of the world. Twelve rainy hours later we checked into our hotel room which was just a few miles away from Lake Erie! Thank goodness for cell phones and GPS. Between the two we found our destination without getting lost and I was able to book a motel room as we arrived in the area.

The next morning we had the meeting on behalf of that lasted from 9-12:30. By one o’clock we were on our way back to North Carolina. The fall colors would have been pretty if we had not been in rain coming and going. We arrived around 12:30 a.m. Friday at our home in Shelby.

My son, who was home on fall break and a friend were sitting in the den playing Wii. Even though it was late and even though all I wanted to do was drop in my bed, I stayed up until 1:30 learning how to play some of the games.

Later that day, Friday I went to Clemson, SC to the Clinton Anderson Walk About Tour. Since the clinic started so early I spent the night before in a hotel in Clemson. Harold could not believe it when he called me at 10:00 p.m. and I was already in bed asleep! I actually went to the clinic to pick up a donation from Clinton for our auction in November. I was happy to scarf up a little down time to watch him work his magic with the horses.

It was not all down time though. I lost my car keys for a while but some kind soul found them and it was later announced over the loud speaker for the owner to “come ID their keys.” Since I am all about putting identification on anything that is important, my keys have my name, cell phone and a picture of myself and Harold with Idaho. Needless to say it was easy to claim my keys. I wish it was that easy for everyone to claim their missing horses.

I was perplexed as to why the finder didn’t just call the phone number on the ID tag though. I would have answered my cell right away and would have had a locksmith on the way to the event to open my car so that I could check to see if they had fallen between the seats or were covered up by something.

I had a nice day at the event. I was home on Saturday by 6:00 p.m., went to dinner with Harold and some friends, talked business again and came home to practice my Wii tennis game.

Living with two men it is rare that I have the opportunity to win anything when it comes to playing any game. Both are very competitive fellows. I played tennis on my college team so I just knew that I would be able to rough up my son a little in the game. And guess what, I didn’t even have to run on the court! My Wii “little me” did all the running for me! How great was that?

I thought I was doing great playing the Wii machine until I played my son at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Why that early? Well, it seemed that while he was on fall break that when he was here I was there, and when he was there I was here, wherever here and there were at the time.

He was about to leave to go to Asheboro, NC to play golf for the day before he went back to college. If I didn’t get up and play him then, I would not have a chance to prove that I could beat him! Maybe I am a little competitive too, at least in my own mind anyway.

And me as a great player really was in my own mind! Balls were flying past me! Zoom to my right! Zoom to my left! My “little me” couldn’t run fast enough to get to the balls he shot back into my court. He beat me in game after game after game. The two games out of 30 that I did win were cause for great celebration for me! I was sad to see him leave. I spent so little time with him on his four day break. At least we grabbed a little one on one fun time before he left.

It was 6:30 a.m. by that time. I could have gone back to bed which I am sure would be what most folks would do. Not me. I sat down and pushed the on buttons on the two computers on my desk. Yes, you read right. I work on two computers each day with

To those few that are here listening…thanks for being here and listening to the ramblings of an tired ole woman. It is now 1:51 a.m and I have just finished up my work for the day and this blog entry. I hope it helps you understand more about the “days in the life” of the person who runs

Now I am going to bed. I promise. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 it really that early?

It is 5:27 as I write this and I have already been on the computer since 3:31. I woke up and thought it was time to get up and came right to the computer to start my day. It was only after I booted up that I realized the time. But, it was too late to go back to bed so here I sit.

Today I am off to Ohio. Just got home from Myrtle Beach and Mississippi. Way too much traveling going on lately. I thought I was going to Kentucky on this trip until last night when I looked at the address so that I could Mapquest my directions, just in case Ms. Garmin (my GPS) gets confused (as she often does) again. I was disappointed to see that the difference added three more hours to my trip one way. It will be a quick trip but I hope a fruitful one for

Sorry that I have not been writing but I promise when things slow down that I will. Okay, let me take that back. I promise that in the midst of things buzzing around me that I will find time. I do have some thoughts to share on some of our recent cases.

Tell your friends about the blog! I need a few more people to talk to. I know Harold says that I can talk to a wall but I really do prefer for it to talk back or at least to know it is listening. :-)

Now I am going back to bed for an hour!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

PS I haven't figured out all this blog stuff, picture, links, comments or even what I will write.

I may even just write about my day here or things that I think are important which may not even have anything to do with a horse. I do have a life, although not much of one, outside of

I hope you will enjoy learning more about the world around me, the people I meet, the events that I attend, the horses and people that touch me most, etc....

I don't want to be talking to myself so be sure to tell your friends to come join me.

All I really need to know I learned from the theft of a horse.

Some people may have learned all they really need to know in kindergarten but I am learning all I really need to know because of a theft of a horse named Idaho.

I've learned that your life can be changed in a matter of minutes by people you don't even know. In 1997 a man from Valdese we didn’t know walked onto our farm, cut our pasture fence and took my husband’s horse Idaho. I am sure his only
Debi Metcalfe with Idaho, age 28 in May 2013.
intent was to sell Idaho for quick cash. His dirty deed took only moments to complete but ended up starting a journey for our family that has lasted over a decade. It is ironic that this very action that caused us so much pain has ended up providing so much comfort for victims of horse crimes around the world.

In our Criminal Justice System the victims of horse related crimes are represented by three important groups; the police who investigate crime, the DA who prosecutes them and the NetPosse volunteers that determinedly search for the missing horses. This blog will tell their stories and along with the lessons I have learned along the way.

Although horse theft is the catalyst that has provoked me to write a blog, it is a mere stepping stone to the thoughts and stories that I will tell here. Hang in there with me. I am not a writer but rather a person that has awe inspiring stories to tell. I promise you moments of wonder, tears and laughter, not necessarily in that order.

See intro on Youtube.