Ruger, a yearling colt, has come a long way since receiving care at Holbrook Farm in Bridgton. He is comfortable enough with farm owner Kristyne Holbrook to nuzzle her when she calls. Katie Starkie Buy this Photo

BRIDGTON — Kristyne Holbrook has loved horses her whole life. Now, she has turned that love to saving those destined for “the glue factory.”

“I started horseback riding lessons when I was 12 at Hidden Brook Farm in Norway as a birthday present from my parents,” the 29-year-old recalled. “I learned everything I know from there! I learned how to clean stalls, handle horses, I gained muscles from carrying five-gallon water buckets all day, I learned how to train horses, care for horses when they get colic, lug and stack hay. I learned everything from the Brainerds”, who own the farm.

Holbrook grew up in Oxford and Waterford, and graduated from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris. She became a “working student” at Hidden Brook Farm to fund her horse obsession.

“I worked for my lessons,” she said. She lived at the farm during the summer and “did chores from sunup to sunset,” As a teenager, she trained two horses, one of which she still owns.

In her junior year in high school she left Hidden Brook to try her hand at a bed and breakfast where she worked as a housekeeper for a few years before being promoted

to innkeeper. She worked at Bear Mountain Inn for about five years and then moved on to Sunday River as a front desk agent for a year.

But the pull of the stables was too much.

“I decided I wanted to get back into working with horses, my dream career, so I got a job at Carousel Horse Farm in Casco as a trail guide. I met my husband, Joshua, here and we fell in love right away,” she laughed.

“I missed Hidden Brook Farm,” she said. “I ended up going back there, where I felt like I was home. I helped with chores, getting my hands back into the physical labor work that I missed so so much. I loved every minute of it.”

Moondance, a dapple gray, poses with Kristyne Holbrook at her farm in Bridgton. Katie Starkie photo

She and Joshua bought a house in Bridgton in 2016 and started putting a pasture together.

“We brought home Snicker and Red and two years later we brought home Ducati.”

Then, this past April she decided she wanted to further her equine career goals. She found on Facebook a rescue unit she loved the sound of – Heart and Hooves Rescue & Sanctuary in Massachusetts. She found the application and immediately applied to foster rescued horses.

“I wanted to help save horses and I applied and was approved,” Holbrook said.

“Only four months into it, and I have fostered five horses. I feel very proud to say I helped find these horses forever, loving homes.”

The horses came to her skinny, frightened, injured, angry and weak. She shows them, slowly and methodically, that not all humans are mean and that they will never miss another meal. After a few weeks of trust, the horses are super friendly, she said.

She has adopted two horses from Heart and Hooves Rescue & Sanctuary: Ruger, a yearling colt, who will be gelded this fall, and Moondance a 2-year-old filly she adopted for their 16-year-old daughter. Both are feral horses that were sent to a kill pen but saved by Heart and Hooves, she explained.

Chickadee, left, and Sparrow, right, were skin and bones when they arrived at Holbrook Farm in Bridgton but slowly have gained weight under the care of farm owner Kristyne Holbrook who stands with them. Katie Starkie Buy this Photo

“I have enjoyed every minute of fostering and I am so thankful for this experience in my life,” Holbrook said. “I one day want to have my own rescue at my farm, Holbrook Farm, where I will offer boarding, training/exercising, and so much more.”

“My passion for horses started as a young teenager when I lived a kid’s dream of handling a 1,200-pound animal. The connection between human and horse is surreal,” she continued. “When I am handling a horse it’s like I can understand them and they can understand me. To think a horse can move in a rhythmic way with a person sitting on his back, collaborating movement together with the gentle touch of a heel or a squeeze of the rein … it is art, beautiful art.

“My dream is to become a well-known trainer and handler,” she said. “I want to help horses in need, either saving their lives from kill pens or helping an owner fix a problem with their horse.”

But horses are not all she does. A mom of four, she works a full-time job, cares for six horses, including the time spent training feral horses, takes riding lessons once a week and works an additional two days each week at Hidden Brook Farm.

A member of the Western Maine Dressage Association, she also competes. And she is a full-time online college student online at St. Andrews University in North Carolina studying for a bachelor’s degree in equine business management.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Holbrook said. “I am very busy but I love every minute of it. I love walking out my front door hearing my horses whinnying to me.”


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