This month I have the great pleasure to share with you a very special equine rescue center in North Texas located an hour east of Dallas near Tyler, Texas.
This horse rescue is named The Pegasus Project with the motto “We Give Horses Wings”! The famous winged horse of Greek Mythology is a very fitting image to describe the healing transformation that occurs when these once suffering horses come under the care of this amazing horse rescue!
This motto speaks volumes as they liberate abused, neglected, and starving horses from their physical suffering and help heal their emotional wounds as well. Through their excellent holistic equine care and rehabilitation, the founders, Allyson and Mike DeCanio, and their staff are very often able to bring horses, mules, and donkeys back from the brink of death to vibrant health. Once restored to health, these horses can then lead happy, healthy lives in their new adopted forever homes.
The Pegasus Project was begun by Attorney Allyson DeCanio and her husband, Mike DeCanio, a Captain of Southwest Airlines, in 2009 when the first horses came under their care. In 2010 they became an official 501c3 foundation. The center is located on a beautiful 95-acre ranch which has been thoughtfully designed to rehabilitate horses in need. They practice good land stewardship which has allowed them to maximize grazing while also growing much of their own hay. This helps keep their budget in good shape as well because they are a not-for-profit organization and manage donations of money and volunteer helpers wisely.
You might be wondering “How did this amazing horse rescue actually begin?” Well, Allyson has loved horses her entire life, yet she had important goals to achieve which postponed her getting her first horse until she was in her 30’s. She has never been without a horse since then!
In 2009, the Pegasus Project was ‘born’ when Allyson received a call from the Humane Society of East Texas about a group of severely neglected horses, including two stallions. They helped all of the horses receive a good home except for the two severely malnourished stallions whom they personally took under their care and helped them return to vibrant health! That is how The Pegasus Project was born! Because of Allyson’s legal expertise she is able to work quickly with organizations such as the SPCA and and other related organizations to advocate for these needy horses!
Mike also loves equines very much and has devoted countless hours to building the fencing and other structures needed to care for the rescued horses. Together they make a very impressive team that has never stopped putting the horses first.
Allyson and her beloved horse, Doc
Mike and his beloved horse, Dolly who was rescued by The Pegasus Project
At this time, they have 50 horses in total at their ranch of which 37 of them are Pegasus rescue horses in all stages of healing, getting ready for adoption. The other 13 equines are owned by the DeCanios or their staff.
Allyson, who is a lifelong learner, put her astute mind to work learning volumes about how to bring a horse from very poor condition (often very underweight/emaciated and nutritionally deficient) to glowing health. She personally oversees the nutritional needs of each horse at her facility. It was a great compliment to her when Purina Feed Company selected The Pegasus Project to do a story about how to expertly bring neglected horses back to health and basically had to agree that Allyson had already figured all the nutritional details out correctly!
Allyson believes ‘horses are ready to get well!” and given the right care and feed within 3 months time, on average, a horse that was once skin and bones can become very well nourished and filled out, with a beautiful shiny coat and a renewed happy spirit like he/she deserves to have!
Allyson has very personalized nutrition plans for each horse tailored to their needs, but as a general rule of thumb, she has seen many of them get off to a very good start by allowing them to eat as much alfalfa hay as they want as a foundational food for their recovery. She has seen many of these abused and starved horses lose all of their hair as they go through the healing process because their bodies are actually in the process of growing an entirely new hair coat once proper nutrition is consistently given to them. Their careful, personalized attention to detail with each horse ultimately allows these horses to become excellent partners for deserving people thanks to the extraordinary care they receive at The Pegasus Project!
The DeCanios take a holistic approach to restoring the horses in need who are fortunate to come under their care. They incorporate complementary therapies such as craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. They are big believers in the barefoot trim as taught by Jamie Jackson and Pete Ramey. They have an excellent veterinary team that works in partnership and collaboration with Allyson and Mike because these veterinarians have come to know and highly respect them for the extensive hands-on knowledge they have gained while successfully restoring neglected and abused horses back to glowing health!
Allyson and Mike have brought back many horses to radiant health. They have rehabilitated well over one hundred horses. For example, there was a horse named Cool Hand Luke whom the DeCanios rescued from a most horrible existence. He was barely alive when they rescued him. Here is his story and how the dedicated help of The Pegasus Project transformed this horse into a vibrant healthy horse who is owned and very loved by his adopted person today.
From The Pegasus Project Facebook page:
Luke at the time he was rescued by The Pegasus Project
The same Luke, recovered and glowing with health thanks to The Pegasus Project and his loving human caretaker!
The Pegasus Project helps these recovering horses not only regain their physical and emotional health, but they also have a most excellent program to help train these horses so that they will make wonderful companions for the people who adopt them. Allyson describes their equine training as “the crown jewel of our organization and sets us apart from all other rescues.”
The entire equine training program is headed by two outstanding experienced horsemen, Bruce Logan and Mark Rashid (who are both Advisors to the Board of Directors for The Pegasus Project). There could not be better horsemen leading this effort. Both of these men are internationally recognized for their full understanding of the horse and their ability to expertly communicate with the horse to help it excel in its training. And, Mark Rashid has been quoted as saying that The Pegasus Project is “the best run horse rescue he has ever witnessed.” He and his wife actually adopted two Pegasus rescue horses!
Under the guidance of these two highly experienced horsemen, two other great equine trainers, Anthony LaSpina (who starts all the colts and brings them further along as well) and Jennifer Wiggins do most of the hands-on training with the horses at The Pegasus Project. Anthony and Jennifer are experts at both the English and Western riding disciplines.
The Pegasus Project makes certain that when a horse is ready to be adopted from their facility that they only go to the most worthy of homes. They maintain active lifelong communication with the adopters through their very active Facebook page and other forms of personal communication.
As we all know, there are sadly times when horses pass away. Sometimes, adopted horses from The Pegasus Project have lived out their lives in their happy home to the point where their death is unfortunately unavoidable. To honor these horses, when their owners do not have the physical space to bury the horse, the horse is returned to The Pegasus Project ranch home and humanely euthanized and placed with honor in the beautiful equine graveyard situated on the property beside the sanctuary horses (the non-adoptable horses who were given a wonderful life at The Pegasus Project).
The Pegasus Project has taken on some large-scale horse rescue operations such as the Winona Herd and the Phoenix Herd. In both cases there were multiple horses that needed to be rescued and with great agility and speed Allyson and Mike came to their rescue and turned the fate of these horses around for the better! In the case of the Phoenix Herd, it was only by the generous gifting of many caring people and grants from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States that these severely neglected equines were able to receive the care they so desperately needed and deserved. Bruce Logan, the great horse trainer, also participated in helping bring these equines into a better life.
The Winona Herd was a rescue of over 60 Registered Paint and Quarter horses whose former owner could no longer care for them properly. Some of these horses were in very bad shape and had to be euthanized, which was heartbreaking. The remaining horses have either been adopted to loving homes or are currently at Pegasus going through their rehab and healing program.
As you can clearly see, The Pegasus Project embodies everything good that a person could do to give a horse a second chance in life. A second chance that brings the security of a safe and loving home to each horse that is truly so fortunate to come under their care. It is of the utmost importance that the work of Allyson and Mike DeCanio and all of their dedicated staff and volunteers can continue to provide the amazing care and rehabilitation needed to bring these deserving horses back to a happy, healthy, safe life.
Every person should consider donating to The Pegasus Project. They are a Silver rated GuideStar charity. This organization is a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation, funded entirely through donations. If you believe in The Pegasus Project's mission, we encourage you to make a contribution. They are always seeking volunteers, supplements, tack and hay - but what ultimately feeds these horses is money.
Donations may be mailed to:
The Pegasus Project, Inc.
P. O. Box 26
Ben Wheeler, TX 75754
BECOME A PEGASUS PARTNER!
OUR HORSES NEED YOUR HELP!
Did you know Pegasus relies entirely on private donations? Our regular monthly donors, known as Pegasus Partners, are our most treasured asset. For as little as $10/month you can help provide us with a predictable source of income at a much lower cost than any other fundraising method. While we are very appreciative of one-time donations, the monthly donations of our Pegasus Partners allow us to plan ahead.
Our ability to save these helpless horses, donkeys and mules depends on YOUR donations!
We cannot do this without you!
Pegasus Partners has 4 levels of participation. You can make your payments online at: http://www.mypegasusproject.org/make-a-donations-.html
$10/Month Donors receive:
$25/Month Donors receive:
$50/Month Donors receive:
$100/Month Donors receive:
Thank you for taking the time to discover what is possible when love, knowledge, and dedication come together to Give Horses Wings!
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