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Atlas’ Story: Tragedy to Triumph

Updated: Jun 22

The Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) operates the only large-scale facility in the region dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming equines, making it a critical resource for horses needing time to heal before finding new homes. 


To illustrate the importance of our lifesaving work with equines, you should know that Texas ranks first among all 50 states in equine population, with North Texas having the highest concentration of equines in the state. At HSNT’s ranch, our intakes support the needs of equines surrendered by their owners in addition to equines brought in from cruelty and neglect cases throughout North Texas. 

While all of the horses that come our way are special and loved by our team at the ranch, one recent adoption journey will stand out for many years to come. Atlas, a branded Mustang, came to HSNT in October 2022 as part of an extreme cruelty case from Wise County. He and two other horses were seized from a property where our team also found two deceased animals. It was clear that Atlas had not been cared for appropriately or handled much (if at all); he had to be roped by a rider on horseback to get him into our trailer. 


Atlas needed immediate medical attention. His left eye was sunken and infected, and he was emaciated, with overgrown hooves. He had patches of rain rot and other fungal issues all over his body. An equine veterinarian was contacted while our team was on site, and Atlas was prescribed pain medication until a complete evaluation could be done.


Atlas was resilient and determined to survive, and thus began a long journey of rehabilitation, compassionate care, and training. Atlas would learn to trust humans again. HSNT’s equine training manager is certified in Natural Horsemanship, and specializes in “connection work,” a technique used to build trust with equines from challenging cases, like Atlas. During connection work, horses  “join up” with humans. 


Connection work reduces stress for horses during the rehabilitative process and helps nervous horses develop a level of comfort with being handled so they can receive needed care (vaccines, farrier work, dental floating, etc.) without injuring themselves or others. Ultimately, training helps promote the adoptability of each horse in our care.



Fast forward…a year and a half later, Atlas was adopted by a loving family, who provided a new pal “Max the Mustang” for Atlas to run and play with. His transformation is a testament to our message that human and horse connection has the ability to change lives. During Atlas’ stay at the ranch, his beautiful soul touched our staff and volunteers who will miss him dearly. We are overjoyed he found a loving home and is on to greener pastures. Atlas’ story highlights the joy and fulfillment that companion horses can bring into our lives. In 2023, 61 of 77 (79%) horses adopted by HSNT were companion horses. Though these majestic animals are no longer rideable, they possess wonderful qualities that make them ideal companions for individuals seeking a lifelong bond with a horse.  


Adoption stories like Atlas’ also affirm how crucial HSNT’s ranch is for vulnerable equines in North Texas. Our impact is only possible with the support and generosity of our community, and we are grateful for the time and resources our constituents devote to saving equine lives. 


If you’d like to learn more about HSNT’s lifesaving work with equines or to schedule a tour of the ranch, call or text Melissa Riehl, Vice President of Development at 817.528.5869.




Humane society of north texas - Pets and People, Saving Each Other®

HSNT’s mission is to save, shelter, protect, and advocate for all animals in need in North Texas.
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