When Teresa Shafer was diagnosed with anorexia in 2001, her doctors urged her to find a hobby that she loved and to do something for herself. That is when she initially discovered her love for raising horses. On her West Knoxville horse farm, she had no issues with slicing up vegetables on a daily basis to feed her horses, yet she still struggled with feeding herself. She still held onto anxiety when it came to knowing when she was hungry and allowing herself the self-respect that she deserved.
While Teresa was dealing with her issues, a horse haven in another part of the state was on a mission to save horses who were found abandoned, starving and living in dire conditions. One particular horse, named Isaac, had been found on the side of the road with jutting ribs, distending hip bones and teeth that showed signs of decay from chewing on would in search of nourishment.
When Nina Margetson, the owner of Horse Haven had found him, his tail had been cut off and his body was covered in sores from laying in contaminated dirt all day. Isaac was happy to be rescued and willingly went into the trailer when she parked on the said of the road. “When we went and picked him up that day you could kind of notice in his eyes oh thank you you’re here. He just loaded right in the trailer like get me out of here,” said Margetson.
While Isaac was recovering at the Horse Haven, Teresa was still battling with anorexia and when the local news was doing a piece on eating disorders, Teresa agreed to allow the crew to follow her around on the farm, as she discussed her battle. When she told the news anchor that she hadn’t ridden a horse in awhile, the anchor led her to Isaac who happened to be at Penrose Farm, which is the home of the Maryville College Equestrian Team.
With the coaxing of a good friend, Teresa went to visit Isaac and urged her to ride him. Initially she refused, but her friend’s persistence was strong and eventually Teresa gave in and road Isaac. The two formed an instant bond and soon after, Teresa made the decision to adopt Isaac.
After time spent training and earning each other’s trust, Teresa and Isaac made their first appearance in the most prominent show ring in the country. After qualifying for the United States Dressage Final in Kentucky, the pair took second place at the National Pony Finals.
The moment was a memorable one, as it had dawned on Teresa that she was partnered up with a horse who survived the trauma that he did and here he was placing first. It gave Teresa a new reality about how she treated herself and confirmed that while she may have adopted Isaac and given him a home, it was Isaac who truly rescued her.
From that moment on, Teresa swore she would never mistreat herself the way that this horse had been mistreated.