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A Foal Named Summer

Mare rescued from tragedy gives birth to bundle of joy

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Niya and her foal, Mason's Summer Hope, live a peaceful life now, filled with nourishment for the body and soul. Laura Lang

by Julie Hauserman

After months of care, the wounds on the mare called Niya are finally healed. Gone are the reminders of how she had to push her neck through barbed wire every day just to try to get some grass to eat.

A Beautiful Foal Is Born

Niya was pregnant and starving when she was rescued in May in West Virginia. Now a mother, her foal is as sweet as her mama, a spotted saddle horse who manages to trust people even after surviving horrific abuse.

The miraculously healthy foal was named "Mason’s Summer Hope"—after Summer Wyatt, the Humane Society of the United States’ West Virginia State Director. And there’s a reason.

Wyatt worked with authorities to prosecute Niya's owner, Gary Belcher, who criminally neglected 129 animals and was convicted of animal cruelty. Wyatt—along with The HSUS animal rescue team and volunteers from United Animal Nations—worked with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter to rescue the animals, many of whom suffered from untreated wounds and other ailments.

Wyatt says the little healthy foal serves as “a reminder of the hope these animals have now. Because we rescued her, she never has to experience the torture that her mother and the other animals had to endure,” Wyatt says.

Her Sweet Shadow

Things seemed touch-and-go for Niya and her impending baby when she was first rescued. United Animal Nations pitched in to help care for the rescues and ready them for adoption. Niya met her new owner, Laura Lang, when Lang volunteered with UAN to care for the rescued horses.

“She would just follow me around when I cleaned the stalls,” Lang said.

Lang was ready for new horses in her life, and she decided to adopt Niya and the yet-to-be born foal. The mare had been evaluated by veterinarians and approved for adoption.

But the journey back to Lang’s home in Ashtabula County, Ohio, stressed the pregnant mare. When Lang stopped at a friend’s house to drop off two other horses her friend rescued, she decided Niya needed to stay there to recuperate.

“She was in such terrible shape she could hardly walk,” Lang said.


After 10 days of careful care, Niya completed her journey. Lang was in for a surprise: she had been told the mare would likely deliver in November. But when her veterinarian came for a checkup, he said Niya would deliver in a week.

“I had been thinking that I had all kinds of time to fatten her up and give her the nutrients she needed,” Lang said. Niya delivered Summer seven days later. 

“She was born in 20 minutes, and she’s just perfect,” Lang said. “If it wasn’t for Summer Wyatt, this foal wouldn’t be here. So I thought the name was fitting.”

Forever Homes

Like Niya, other horses rescued during that May operation also have been adopted. The remaining are living the life at Paradise Stables in Maryland and the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, an East Texas sanctuary owned and operated by The HSUS in partnership with The Fund for Animals. In some cases, these sanctuaries will be a forever home and in others, they will be adopted into a home of their own.

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