Bev Dee created Bright Futures Farm in 2000 when she met and fell in love with her first rescue horse, a retired Thoroughbred named Brite Decision. Previously, Dee thrived in corporate America but she never knew anything was missing until she met Brite. She said, “To take a horse from a bad place and see the life come back in its eyes and see it thrive is the ultimate fulfillment for me. My life before wasn’t fulfilling, but I didn’t know it.” Starting Bright Futures Farm was, for Dee, “the best thing I ever did.”
Soon after Dee found Brite Decision, she adopted two more horses, sold her house and bought a farm. In her words, she “dove in with both feet.” Bright Futures Farm in Cochranton, PA, has 20 acres of pasture and 15 stalls. Usually, all 15 of those stalls are filled with horses of various breeds. There are currently 9 Thoroughbreds at the farm, including Fast Market, Secretariat’s oldest living son.
Dee says, “People come to us with horses in need. We try very hard to take the horses right off the track so they don’t have any negative experiences.” Because Bright Futures doesn’t always have space, Dee has become a volunteer for CANTER Pennsylvania at a local track. Dee believes that “If everyone who has a barn opened one stall to a horse who had nowhere to go, a big part of the [aftercare] problem would be solved.”
Once a horse arrives at Bright Futures, it works with a trainer for about three months. Some of the horses at Bright Futures are not adoptable for a variety of reasons, so they live out the remainder of their days at the farm. For the horses that are adoptable, Dee searches for permanent homes. Her search is aided by publicity and word of mouth. Finding well matched homes for adoptable horses is a challenge Dee takes seriously.
Importantly, Bright Futures tracks each horse that leaves for its forever home. In Dee’s words, “We know where every horse has gone over the past 15 years. We ask for updates every year, and we friend our adopters on Facebook. We keep in touch to make sure the horses are happy and healthy and to remind adopters that we care and will always take a horse back if they can no longer care for it.”
Donations and funding are one of Dee’s main concerns. She says, “One of the issues is that the economy hasn’t rebounded yet, and people don’t have the money to spend or give now.” To compensate for this, Bright Futures Farm works to draw donors with creative advertising and garner grants from organizations like TCA. The money from TCA goes toward “vet bills, farrier bills, hay, feed, and whatever else the horses need on a daily basis.” Dee added, “Without TCA’s grant, sponsors, and other donations, we’d never be able to help as many Thoroughbreds as we do.”