Meet The Team
An Introduction From Michelle, FounderMichelle w/ "Stuffing" the rescued turkey! As our following grows I am blessed to get to know many of you, the backbone of this operation and without your support, shares and donations, I would not be able to house or rescue the amount of horses that I do. That being said, I would like you to know a little about me, the founder of HiCaliber Horse Rescue. I have been in various forms of Law Enforcement and Animal Control for 17 years. When I began my career, there were not many rescues out there (whether for dog/cat/horse/etc.).We were still in the dismal days of euthanizing several animals a day, every day. As heartbroken as I was, I felt if I wanted to be a part of the solution, I had to get uncomfortably familiar with the problem.
When I was first hired, there were still a few of the "old timers" around who were either not animal people to begin with, OR they had become so hardened from constant euthanasia that they had lost their soft side. As painful as it was, I always volunteered to do "the list" - I would rather them leave this earth in the arms of someone who loved them, and was still able to connect with them in their final moments.
I wasn't well liked in the Animal Control world. I refused to stay quiet about the industries stereotyping and misunderstanding of the bully breeds. I partnered with a friend and we started the non-profit Pit Bull rescue "It's the Pit's." After several years and 400+ rescued shelter dogs, it became exhaustingly clear that there would never be a shortage of dogs to "rescue." I was burnt out and felt that my credibility as an officer could be far better used while trying to change the community's perception of Pit Bulls. I decided to switch gears and began another non-profit, this time a Pit Bull advocacy group that provided resources, support and educational material to owners and shelters. "Even Chance" was born and eventually nurtured and raised by my co-founder, Nicole Edwards (who is now the president of the group and does a better job than I EVER would have).
On July 12th, 2010, life as I knew it stopped. I suffered a traumatic brain injury from a fall at work. What I thought was going to be a few days off, turned out to be the end of my career. I suffered from cognitive, receptive, vestibular, and speech issues as well as chronic pain from a neck, back and shoulder injury that happened as the time of the fall. For several months, I was a patient at Scripps Traumatic Brain Injury Rehab program. I tried to piece my life back together and was having trouble making it fit.
Having been a long time horse owner and occasional/hobbyist rescuer I found peace in my horses. (Brain injuries seclude their victims from the society they once knew, and being social with fellow humans can be difficult at best the first couple of years post-incident.) I found myself spending more and more time in the pasture, lying on a fallen tree looking up into the sky as "my herd" gathered around me. My horses didn't ask me questions and impatiently wait for a reply. They weren't in a constant rush, didn't talk a mile a minute or baby my every move. They didn't get awkward when I cried, frustrated when I was too tired to budge, or judge me when I wanted to give up. They don't dumb things down, talk your ear off or overload your senses. They don't worry about yesterday or anticipate tomorrow. They just...are.
Some days my horses were all I would get out of bed for. I lost my career, my marriage, my home and my ability to mother my children due to my accident. The only thing I knew about myself was horses. I slowly began to handle them again, work on my motor skills, hand/eye coordination and balance. My speech improved with verbal commands, and my outlook on life was improving. I pushed on and continued to work with my horses. I began to ride my long time mare and found my pain decreased greatly. My best guess is that the exercise, stretching and expansion of my spine/hips while riding helped my condition. (Heck even now on the days I don't ride, my back locks up!)
Having always been known as the neighborhood sucker (ok-being an ACO *might* have played a part too), people would bring me every kind of critter possible. I had taken a few of my equine work cases home in years past and word got around about my small little rescue operation when the housing market crashed. Insert craigslist, facebook and too much time on my hands and viola! Before I knew it, 1 rescue turned into 2 turned 3 turned into 33! By saving these horses, I began to save myself.
3 years later, I still battle daily with the residual effects of my brain injury. Luckily, my co-workers are now horses. They don't answer to the clock, feel the need to chit chat and are always forgiving of my mistakes. I can go at my own pace, and it's the perfect match for me. Where the human connection once felt safe, it can now be a foreign world to a brain injury survivor.
But horses? They get me. I get them. We don't have to converse about what we are doing. It's merely a dance...and I get to pick the music