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Mustangs Felicity, Dazzle and Razzle watch a photographer with curiosity at their new forever home at The Middle Way horse sanctuary in Fairplay.

FAIRPLAY • The quest of The Middle Way horse sanctuary to keep three wild mustangs together has been realized. Now all three horses, who are grandmother, mother and daughter, are together in their forever home in Garo.

Early this year, Sand Wash Basin Advocate Team posted on Facebook that these three mares, also known as The Painted Ladies, who had been together all their lives, had been captured during a Bureau of Land Management round-up and sent to a holding center in Cañon City awaiting adoption.

Lori Araki, director of the nonprofit The Middle Way, knew from the way the BLM auctions are conducted, that the chances of the older mares getting adopted were not good and they would remain in the holding center possibly for the rest of their lives. The youngest of the three, Felicity, who is 6, would probably be sold — breaking up the trio, who represent three generations of one bloodline.

Araki set up a GoFundMe page to try and secure enough money to adopt all three horses, to keep them together and provide them a good home. The results of her efforts gained enough money to build the required pen, shelter and money for the animal purchases, unless bidding went over what amount they had obtained.

The day of auction, held last month, was alive with concern and anticipation. it was a silent auction, with each bidder assigned a number to put on the paper at each stall with their bid.

The BLM workersmade their way through the 72 horses up for adoption, Araki said.

As expected, The Middle Way was the only bidder for the older two horses, Razzle and Dazzle, but others were bidding on Felicity. During that time, people from all over were contacting Araki and offering to donate more money to her cause. One donor offered an additional $1,000. Finally, when the workers reached Felicity, Araki’s top bid sealed the deal and all three horses belonged to The Middle Way.

“It was very emotional for me and the others who were with me. I cried,” said Araki. “I was so grateful and so overwhelmed by the responses received.”

Since arriving at their new home at The Middle Way, the horses are slowly adapting to their new surroundings. Araki is patiently working with them at their own pace to acclimate them to human presence. She goes about her work feeding and/or cleaning in the pen with the horses in a manner to get them used to her presence. Araki said it seems to be working, as the horses will feed while she is in the pen.

Araki is no stranger to horses, having been around horses all her life. Born in Oneida, N.Y., she grew up around horses and after graduating high school in 1987, she left home and ventured to California with her sister. She got a job working with horses as a working student for a hunter/jumper trainer in the San Ynez Valley. Later she was a working student for an Olympic dressage rider.

In 1994, the woman Araki was working for moved, but helped get her a job on a polo farm. From there, she got a job galloping race horses, followed by an assistant manager job at a rehabilitation barn for horses who needed retrained or had suffered an injury. She also worked showing horses as a rider and ended up a manager of 66 horses.

In 2005, Araki bought her own riding school, where she taught riding and trained horses. She closed the business in 2010 to move to San Antonio, Texas to work with Costa Rican Walking Horses. It didn’t take long before she realized that wasn’t her cup of tea, and she moved to Asheville, N.C., where she worked and studied equine assisted psychotherapy and became a Certified Equine Specialist with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Araki worked as a therapeutic riding instructor and equine specialist for equine facilitated mental health. In 2017, after some medical problems, she moved to Colorado and started The Middle Way, focused on offering therapeutic riding to children and veterans, regardles of ability to pay. Their goal for the future includes having an indoor arena to be able to continue their work year-round. Eventually, The Middle Way would like to offer a sanctuary to victims of domestic violence.

Knowing the special care and attention wild mustangs need, Araki was determined and hopeful to keep Razzle, Dazzle and Felicity together and provide them a comfortable and safe home.

“Through the generosity of so many, we were able to accomplish this and now we are looking forward to securing enough hay for the winter,” Araki said.

To donate or volunteer to The Middle Way, visit themiddlewaysanctuary.org or find them on Facebook.

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