After a family dispute separated the Thompsons from their beloved horse, Boscoe, three years ago, they feared the worst — they’d never see the animal again.

Those fears were dispelled last week while touring an Ellicott ranch and they heard a staff member say the name of the horse they believed had died of old age or been sold for slaughter.

Brandie and Rich Thompson and their two daughters, Bella and Faith, recognized their cocoa-colored companion immediately by the broad white stripe that runs from the forehead to his muzzle. They all began to cry.

“Just seeing him brought back so much emotion,” Brandie Thompson said. “We really didn’t know what happened to him.”

The Peyton-area residents reunited with Boscoe on Oct. 6 at the annual fall festival fundraiser for Next Step Horse Rescue, a 120-acre haven for about 50 horses who were once abandoned or neglected.

When Rich Thompson called out to Boscoe, the horse’s ears perked up, said Chrissy Emerick, a rescue employee. Boscoe began to whinny, ran over and nestled his head against the father’s chest, Emerick said.

“The horse knew exactly who they were,” she said.

The Thompsons once lived with a relative, who kept Boscoe in a pasture at her home just east of Colorado Springs. They later had a falling out with the family member and moved out, and their relationship with her became too strained for them to continue visiting the horse. The woman surrendered Boscoe to the rescue a few years ago, saying she couldn’t care for him, said Betina Tacoronte, founder and president of the horse rescue.

But he didn’t bite, kick or charge, like many horses initially do when they are taken in by the rescue, which often houses animals referred there by law enforcement agencies like the ASPCA, Tacoronte said.

“When I assessed him, he seemed really sweet and really calm,” she said. “He’s not our typical rescue.”

Boscoe, at least 25 years old, is half American paint horse and half quarter horse. His easy-going temperament has made him perfect for pony rides and horse camps that the rescue hosts, she said.

Tacoronte’s family later adopted him so that her 12-year-old granddaughter could learn how to ride to participate in gymkhana events, like pole-bending and barrel racing.

The Thompsons have since gotten another horse — a mustang named Reba — but they plan to visit Boscoe at the rescue, Brandie Thompson said. They’re glad he’s well taken care of at a farm that 8-year-old Faith Thompson compared to “heaven on earth.”

While the rescue’s staff usually gives horses new names, Boscoe just seemed to fit — so the name stuck.

The Thompsons are glad about that, too.

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