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Faces of Species360: Celebrating World Horse Day with Adrienne Miller

Faces of Species360 – Adrienne Miller

Holidays and awareness days tend to be popular topics – one source even has downloadable calendar of more than 2,300 of them! While they aren’t all focused on animals, there are enough of them that we thought it would be a great way to introduce you to some of the small but mighty Species360 team. First up, Training Content Developer Adrienne Miller, who is also a horse whisperer in disguise.

World Horse Day – March 1

National Horse Protection Day (also known as World Horse Day) is March 1 of every year. The day was created to bring light to the plight of unwanted horses and help them find their forever homes. Horse Protection Day was first observed and founded by animal behaviorist Colleen Page who wanted to raise awareness of the plight of unwanted horses.

My rescue horse experience

adrienne miller - rescue horse before
Hushpuppy when I got him, thin, shy and untouchable

This day is especially important to me because my horse “Hushpuppy” is a rescue horse. Horses have been a part of my family for most of my life, and I’d been saying “I want a pony” for many years. In February 2016, my husband finally said “go get a pony”. One of our friends knew about the Big Oaks Rescue Farm, so we decided to go with them to check it out. There were over 100 horses (and goats, llamas and sheep) at the rescue. All of them came over right away for attention – to be petted, fed hay and possibly adopted. All except for one scrawny Appaloosa who was spending his time well away from everyone. Of course I wanted the only one that didn’t come over and beg to be adopted!

Training a rescue horse

Two weeks later, he arrived at the stable where I board him (just a mile from my home!). He was two years old at the time and basically untouched by humans, so he had to teach me everything! It took more than a week before I could halter him. A month later, I was able to touch his right side. He taught me patience, patience, patience. And taking baby steps. I hired a trainer in January 2017 to start him on the saddle. He took to it from the start and never bucked or pulled any of the stunts that young horses often do.

adrienne miller - rescue horse after
Hushpuppy now, fat, friendly, loves attention and has an incredible neck

Getting to know a rescue horse

Over time, we discovered that Hushpuppy is a gaited horse. Gaited horses do not do the normal trot pace.  Instead they do a very comfortable shuffling gait that is as fast as a trot but very smooth. I sent some of his mane out for DNA testing to find out what breeds he may possibly be besides the obvious Appaloosa. The most likely is a Galiceno, a Mexican breed I had never heard of, next likely a Missouri fox trotter and third likely a Tennessee Walker. All of those breeds are gaited. Who would ever think that a little rescued Appaloosa would be gaited?

Domestic Horses in ZIMS

Did you know that there are 1,444 domestic horses in Species360 ZIMS? Why would a domestic horse be part of an exotic animal collection? Most commonly they are part of farmyard exhibits that teach children about life before iPhones and texting. And, with the gentle nature of most domestic horses, they become a hands-on experience that many children will remember for years to come. Here’s a few more interesting facts:

  • Domestic horses are held by 197 ZIMS institutions across all five regions
  • The current Species Holding count is 1,444 (619.739.4 with 82 held in groups) animals.
  • Some of these domestic breeds are considered rare/minor breeds and have listings very similar to wild populations such as Critical, Threatened, Watch and Recovering.
  • One of the breeds listed as Critical is the Galiceno, the breed most likely to be in Hushpuppy’s ancestry. Currently there are no ZIMS institutions holding this breed. However, other Critical breeds such as the Shire and Suffolk are held in ZIMS institutions.
Adrienne with Hushpuppy

About Adrienne Miller

Adrienne is the Training Content Developer and Lead Trainer for Species360. She spent the first part of her career working as a Registrar for Roger Williams Zoo, followed by a few years as Registrar at Audubon Zoo before joining the Species360 team. As an early Species360 registrar user, she has extensive knowledge and first-hand experience of animal record keeping software. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences and a Teaching Certification from the University of Rhode Island. A typical day for her includes creating and updating Help documents and presentations to support new functionality releases or changes in ZIMS. She also creates and runs the Tips and Tricks and Studbook Webinars that are offered monthly. She recently taught the AZA Institutional Records Keeping week long course for the 21st time!

Learn more or sign up for upcoming webinars here:

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