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    Name: Smokey

    Type: Horse

    Color: Black

      Markings: None

    Sex: Gelding

    Birthday: 1/1/1998


Smokey’s owners had dug a grave for him and called our vet to come put him to sleep. On seeing Smokey, our vet refused to euthanize him. She will not do what she calls “convenience” euthanasia. Supposedly, he was “mean” to the other horses and “wouldn’t eat”. Smokey was somewhat thin, but he didn’t need to be euthanized! Instead, our vet called Red Bell Run and begged for a spot. Our vet is awesome and she was in tears, so we knew this was a desperate situation. Whatever circumstances had led to the spot Smokey was in, he didn’t need to cross the Rainbow Bridge if our vet said he didn’t need to go! Smokey soon arrived at our Villa Roja barn. 

With some asthma treatment and a stall of his own so he wasn’t run off from food, Smokey soon gained weight and his breathing got under control. He settled into his new life as if he had been born here. He’s 32 years old now and has eye issues which limit his sight, plus Cushings disease. He is best friends with Vinnie, the donkey. Vinnie is part of the herd that was rescued from a Chesnee law enforcement case. We soon discovered that Vinnie is one of the few donkeys who doesn’t want another donkey for a companion. It turned out that he had been a companion to a horse in his previous life, so we moved him to Villa Roja where he promptly joined up with Smokey and is happy to pal around with his big friend. Vinnie acts as Smokey’s “guide” now that Smokey’s eyesight is compromised and they enjoy their neighboring stalls and time out in the Villa Roja pasture together. 

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    Name: Trigger

    Type: Horse

    Color: Chestnut

    Markings: Bald face 

    Sex: Gelding

    Birthday: 1/1/2006


Ark Watch logo 2022

Trigger was suffering from severe starvation before being seized by the local Sheriff’s Department and landing under the wing of The Ark Watch Foundation. It was touch and go for a time, but after being refed and rehabilitated, Trigger was placed with Red Bell Run. Because he has an esophageal issue his grain must be served as a “soup” but otherwise he lives happily with his friend Charley at the Villa Roja Barn. 

Trigger Lucii
Trigger Luci
Fancy Pants

Fancy Pants

Fancy Pants (Appsolute Fancy Pants)

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    Name: Fancy Pants (Appsolute Fancy Pants)

    Type: Appaloosa Horse

    Color: Varnish Roan

    Sex: Mare

    Birthday: 1/1/2012


Fancy Pants, a beautiful half-Appaloosa mare ended up as so many with problems do – starving and dumped at an auction with no information about her past. Fortunately, the couple who purchased her took her to our vet, Dr. Emilie Setlakwe, at Tryon Equine Hospital and after determining that Fancy Pants was in big trouble that the owners couldn’t afford to treat, Dr. Emilie reached out to us. Fancy Pants wasn’t pregnant like the owners thought. Instead, she had an enormous abscess in her stomach that would require weeks of expensive antibiotics. 

We took her in, treated her and she recovered from her abscess…but that wasn’t the end of Fancy Pants’ troubles. 

It turns out that Fancy Pants suffers from the genetic form of Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy, or PSSM 1. PSSM 1 is a degenerative muscle disease caused by a disorder of sugar metabolism that has been found in over 20 different breeds. Affected horses show symptoms such as reluctance to move, muscle tremors and tension and is known as the “tying up” disease. Because Fancy Pants has the genetic form, she is harder to manage than horses with PSSM 2, which is a less severe form of the disease. Fancy Pants lives on a special track that has minimal grass and is on a special diet to help control the disease. Any exercise at all – or no exercise at all – can bring on an attack of sweating, severe muscle pain, and tremors. 

However, these horses need consistent movement so her large shelter gives her space to move around in even in inclement weather. She has an attached dry lot so that she is never locked up. Our staff knows her issues and are constantly observing her and managing her turnout so that she is as comfortable as we can make her. Fancy Pants has come a long way from being sick, thin, and fearful to a lovely, beautifully marked Appaloosa mare used to a kind touch. While we wish Fancy Pants’ physical health wasn’t so compromised, she is safe at Red Bell Run and lives with her best friend Sassy at Villa Roja. 

fancy pants



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    Name: Vinnie

    Type: Standard Donkey

    Color: Brown

    Sex: Gelding

    Birthday: 1/1/2016


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Our Vinnie escaped from a horrible situation in our local North Carolina area. Vinnie and his herd mates had been left to fend for themselves by an irresponsible owner. Soon, the grass was eaten in the pastures and Vinnie and friends decided to escape in search of food. This wasn’t difficult because the fencing was in disrepair. However, having two jacks (Vinnie and Buddy Jackson) wandering the neighborhood and upsetting all of their equines didn’t set well with the neighbors who called Vinnie’s owner and asked him to retrieve Vinnie and his herd. Unfortunately, the owner decided to rope Buddy Jackson and proceed to drag him down an asphalt road. You can imagine the damage that was done to por Buddy Jackson. The neighbors were, of course, outraged, and called the authorities. They also took in all of the donkeys (Vinnie, Buddy Jackson, Ruby, Moonshine, and Gracie) and called Red Bell Run for help. The entire herd came to Red Bell Run, Vinnie included, so that they could be properly cared for and Buddy Jackson could have his wounds addressed.

After a month or so of being fed an appropriate diet, having his overgrown hooves addressed, getting gelded and being convinced that Red Bell Run was a good spot to land in, Vinnie was moved up to the Longears Lodge for some donkey companionship. Now, in nearly 100% of cases, donkeys do best with their own kind. We always recommend that if you’re getting a donkey, it’s best to get two. They can live with a horse companion, but they are much happier with another donkey…except for Vinnie. Vinnie did not like the other donkeys; in fact, Vinnie dug a hole halfway to China next to the fence, pinned his ears and bared his teeth if any of the other curious donkeys got close and in general expressed his great displeasure with his new accommodations. We try to do the very best thing for each equine in our care and clearly Vinnie wasn’t a happy donkey. We discovered that at one time Vinnie had been a companion to a blind horse, so we moved Vinnie to Villa Roja with an older gelding named Smokey who has some vision issues. Vinnie took to Smokey immediately and the two have become fast friends. Smokey’s vision continues to deteriorate, but Vinnie is there to help. Vinnie is happy, Smokey is happy and we’re happy for both of them! 


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