Arabian/Morgan Cross

Black Bay, Gelding | DOB: 2006 | ARRIVAL: 01/02/2021 | 14 Hands HANDS

During my first view of the starved equine, I thought his skeletal frame looked more like that of a dinosaur than that of a horse.  The gelding’s dull black coat appeared to stretch nearly beyond its limits to cover his protruding ribs.  Kim and I tenderly placed our hands over the gaunt hide in front us.  In contrast, the hollow, yet soft expression in his eyes gave him a grandfatherly appearance. 

I was surprised to learn he was only in his early teens, an age in which most horses are in their prime.  Curious, I asked if the gelding would be up for adoption.

“Not at this time,” the Deschutes County Sheriff’s officer soberly replied.  “He is currently being held as evidence relating to neglect charges. The gelding’s previous owners are battling to regain custody over him.  We are not able to adopt him out until the case is closed.”

Somberly, Kim and I followed the officer to the next paddock of rescued equines.  I silently prayed, asking God would show us how we could help. 


Months earlier, Kim shared with me how Crystal Peaks used to have a close working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department and it was her desire for the strong bond to be reestablished. She offered to help me connect with officers she used to work with and meet new ones who had joined the force more recently.  Our first contact was with Mariya Luefven.  She served as a field technician who operated the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Rescue Ranch.

The Sheriff’s Ranch was founded after the Millican rescue, the largest equine seizure in Oregon State history (detailed in Bridge Called Hope).  During this event over one hundred and thirty emaciated horses were removed from a backyard breeding operation.  The legal entanglement of housing such a large number of livestock spurred the County to acquire property for the purpose of safely confiscating animals in need.  Having a dedicated facility ensured the County was able to immediately begin rehabilitation for the animals who were starving or wounded.

Mariya invited us to come visit the Sheriff’s Ranch and meet the most recently rescued residents.  On our tour, Kim and I encountered the black horse.  Mariya described how the Department recently seized the neglected gelding along with his two pasture mates.  The owners were contesting for repossession.

The gelding’s withered frame testified to his mistreatment.  Mariya shared how he had already gained a great deal of weight since his arrival. I knew under her deeply compassionate authority, the dark horse would receive the highest standard of care toward recovery.

During our time together, I noticed—despite the serious nature of her work—Mariya displayed a confident joy.  Under her diligent attention, the animals at the Sheriff’s Ranch were thriving.  After our tour was complete, we promised to stay in touch. 

Back at Crystal Peaks, the team and I prayed for God to show us how to come alongside the Sheriff’s Department and Mariya in their current work.  We trusted Jesus to show us the way.

Mariya and I remained in communication.  After a full season for Crystal Peaks—and the Sheriff’s Department—she let me know they had a gentle gelding that might be a good fit for our children’s riding program.  Kim and I returned to the Sheriff’s Ranch to meet the little horse. We were introduced to small gelding with a passionate spirit.  I smiled to see he was quite chubby and appeared to be an easy keeper.  Mariya shared that he was about 15 years old and possibly an Arabian/Morgan cross.  His dark coat and white facial markings looked familiar to me.  I felt gears jamming in my brain, but I couldn’t quite place him . . .

I started my evaluation by asking him to circle in the round pen.  The gelding responded to my requests with athletic animation, carrying his head and tail high as if he were celebrating his newly regained ability to move.  Although the gelding needed a refresher on manners, he was kind and willing to learn.  To test his nerves, I carefully began waving my jacket around his body.  He calmly chose to stand still and didn’t seem to care—even when I gently draped my coat over his eyes.  

I could feel a grin spread across my face.  I liked what I saw.  Often, neglected horses struggle with suspicion and fear of humans.  Yet, instead of terror, this horse displayed trust.  Once my evaluation concluded, I returned him to his paddock. 

We thanked Mariya for the opportunity to consider such a kindhearted equine for our Ranch.  I asked if we could arrange for him to visit Crystal Peaks so I could do a test ride. Mariya wholeheartedly agreed—and the evaluation ended as she dashed away to care for the needs of two newly arrived horses.

On the drive home, our truck was full of excited debriefing.  I spoke of my thoughts while evaluating the gelding . . . and how he somehow looked familiar. 

Suddenly it came to me.  “Wait . . .” I questioned Kim, “Wasn’t this the same starving horse we saw when we first toured the Deschutes County Rescue Ranch property?” 

She was far ahead of me and nodded with certainty.  “Yes, that’s the one.”

“Wow,” I responded.  “He looks—and acts—so differently.  It’s amazing to see him fully recovered.  It’s as if he’s ten years younger!”

Indeed he was.  Shortly after, I performed a riding evaluation and he passed with flying colors.


On the day of his adoption, Mariya notified two local news stations.  Several officers and members of law enforcement came in a mini brigade.  Cameras captured the story of redemption for a little horse—and—the reinforcement of a twenty five year-old partnership of rescue.  Crystal Peaks staff and law enforcement stood shoulder to shoulder in one accord.

Even greater still, the story relayed the Gospel of Christ.  The name of Jesus poured through the interviews like a radiant beam of light into our community.  Reflecting a mighty war mount carrying a beacon of hope, God positioned the once discarded horse to brandish HIS truth of salvation.

In honor of our new gelding’s tenacity to overcome suffering . . . in commemoration of the officers who sacrifice to protect our community . . . and in light of his calling to assist us in the rescue of children in need . . . we named our new horse, “Warrior.”

Warrior stands true to his name and loves well the children on the Ranch.  He seems to think his ultimate duty is to allow little fingers to brush his now glossy coat and he tenderly bows his head for the smallest hands to reach his face.  With bravery, he has carried riders into the wilderness and on one adventure, he even encountered a herd of wild mustangs.  Truly, our gentle Warrior lives up to his name.

In a unique way, Warrior reminds us of our Savior.  Jesus was despised by men and rejected.  He underwent fiery trials—and was raised victorious.  He unites those who stand for justice.  Humbly, He welcomes the little children.  With bravery, He carries His chosen ones through every battle.  

Our God is the author of Rescue . . . and He offers this gift freely to all who call on His name.

“The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is his name!”

Exodus 15:3, NLT