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Working with horses helps inspire teen
red stallion

Alyse Elness is among volunteers that help at a horse rescue sanctuary in Lathrop.

Alyse, 13, met a red stallion named Montera at the AT Ranch & Equestrian Center on Frewert Road.  It was love a first sight for both when she was allowed to groom the horse and clean the stalls in exchange for her much-desired riding lessons.

“It’s definitely an emotional connection,” Alyse said. “When I hug him, he drops his head and nudges me back. When you reach out your hand, he first smells to see if you have anything in your hand.”

 “He’s very gentle and loves water.  When he is taken out on a trail ride,  he doesn’t get spooked.  He is a good horse with some Arabian blood and stands about 16 hands high.”

 “The first day I went out to the stables volunteering to pick up hay there was a lady about to wash a horse that had gone on a trail ride the day before.  I walked over to where she was working and she asked me if I wanted to groom him, which he loved.  It was at that moment I fell in love with him; I felt happy. I felt one with him.  He and I felt a definite connection.  I’ve met so many different horses but he was unique.  I could feel that he and I had something special.  He inspired me so much that one day I am confident that I want to become an equestrian veterinarian.”

Alyse noted that she always starts to brush him with her right hand. The first thing she noted was a triangle of three dots on his shoulder. It was similar to the Assyrian religion’s three birth mark dots on their members representing the religious connection: Father, Son and Holy Ghost of the Trinity which she has had since birth along with her Nana.

“That birthmark was the first thing I noted about him when I started brushing,” she said, “and it pleasantly surprised me.”

She said she has had a love for horses since being a small child when she went riding with her brother at the age of 6, adding she didn’t start taking it seriously until she was 11 and began riding at 12.

The owner of the stable said the horse came from an elderly gentleman who lived in Lathrop and “spoiled his horse rotten” before retiring to Oklahoma recently.  The horse is below the normal weight of his breed and the equestrian center is working to put weight back on him.

Asked which she could say she likes better, boys or horses, she replied: “A horse absolutely.  My friends who have horses don’t have time for boys and horses don’t talk back.”

“The magic came when he closed his eyes and just melted my heart,” Alyse added.

Of the 30 horses at the center, 15 are boarded by their owners with the others having been abandoned or abused.

“There’s just something about him,” she continued, “he’s not like other horses and very loving, stretching his head out of the corral when I approach.  When my mom Patricia gets off work she takes me to work in the stables and see Montera on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.”

Alyse said the equestrian center owners Aldo and Della Todeschini also work to rescue lost and injured horses and provide monthly boarding where they also have a riding arena for their students.

Alyse said she really enjoys school and looks forward to her upcoming eighth grade year at Lincoln School.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email