Bug, a 5-year-old Spanish mustang mare, had a rough start to life having been malnourished at a farm in southern Minnesota before being seized, at 3 months old, along with her mother by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation (MHARF). 

“Her mom was malnourished throughout her pregnancy and for the first three months after Bug was born,” said 2015 Woodbury High School graduate Maddie Kanda, who is training Bug. “Mom had to be euthanized and Bug was taken into foster care where she was bottle-fed for the next three months.” 

Bug has eventually blossomed into a beautiful butterfly thanks to the time and dedication of Kanda. 

Kanda and Bug will be competing in the Trainer’s Challenge of the Unwanted Horse, a competition that challenges young horse trainers to showcase untrained rescue horses in hopes of becoming adopted, this September at the University of Minnesota. 

“It’s just such a rewarding experience,” Kanda said. “They have a such better chance of being adopted after they’ve been worked with for a while.”  

This will be the second time that Kanda has competed in the Trainer’s Challenge of the Unwanted Horse. She competed last year with an Arabian named Raayna and took fourth place overall.  

“It was really fun to see all the horses and how they progressed,” she said of last year’s challenge. 

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