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A Woman and her Horse: Reunited After two Decades

Written By Michael on 7/9/15 | 7/9/15

By Timothy Knight

MILLBROOK - On Saturday afternoon Laurie DeFeo brought home a twenty-five year old gray Arabian that has gone by the names of Sabrina and Arabelle. Normally, this wouldn't be news, but after spending years of countless hours in search for her long lost horses across the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, her story has finally found a happy ending.

Growing up on her family's horse farm, Ms. DeFeo became attached to a small, beautiful mare named Tara in her teen years. However, the bond between a girl and her horse would be severed by the divorce of Laurie's parents, who sold the family farm.

Laurie's beloved Tara was given to a girl the family knew on the promise that she would keep the mare, but the girl wound up selling the horse anyway in an relatively short time span.

Years later, Laurie sought out information on her old horse and found her beloved mare at a farm in Putnam Valley; only this time Tara was with her newborn filly, a chestnut Arabian with distinctive markings.

However, because she was working three jobs and attending college at the time, Ms. DeFeo knew that she did not have either enough time nor money to take care of the two horses, but she was pleased that they were healthy and were being cared for in a loving environment.

For over twenty years, that is where the story sat.

Until Laurie was in the process of settling in Millbrook, a small Duchess County village that is home to numerous horse farms. Laurie would identify the strong equine presence in her new home as a emotional trigger that brought up decades old memories of Tara.

Memories that prompted the now grown woman to find out whatever did happen to her horse and her horse's foal.

Starting her search by reaching out to former employees of the long shuttered horse farm in Putnam Valley, Laurie had been told that both horses were transported to Schoharie County at or near the Town of Jefferson.

Admittedly obsessed with finding any and all information, DeFeo drove to the county every for weekend in late 2013 and early 2014 to unearth clues and to find the farm where the horses had allegedly been brought to.

Reaching out to area equine barns, horse enthusiasts, news outlets, and veterinarians offices, she received an outpouring of support everywhere she sought help and the community provided numerous tips on horses that shared characteristics to either Tara or Sarbina.

Unfortunately, those tips would be all for naught.

Reflecting in a recent interview "all that looking upstate was a wild goose chase," Laurie explained that the former employee of the farm had inaccurately remembered bringing the horses to Schoharie County, when they had never even come close to the area.

In fact, the two horses were sold to owners in the opposite direction: Tara went to Brewster and Sabrina wound up in Fishkill.

Not one to give up easily, Laurie remained hard at work in her search to locate both horses, but despite her best efforts of pursuing leads and advertising her story on social media, she had effectively hit a dead end last year.

That is, until she received a message on facebook early last week from someone she has never met..

Containing only the picture of a mare for sale on Capital District HorseSource, the message spurred Laurie to follow up on the horse in question: a twenty something year old grey Arabian named Arabelle that has distinctive markings.

Having learned early in her search from a successful jockey that a horse's markings are equivalent to a human's fingerprint, DeFeo had kept in mind Sabrina's features, which included a blaze with a half moon shape over right eye, a little white patch under her left lip, and three white hooves with her front right hoof being completely black.

Features that matched the horse for sale perfectly.

Using both old photographs of Sabrina and Laurie's memory as a guide, not only was Arabelle's owner able to match her horse's markings to Sabrina with relative ease, but upon further investigation by Ms. DeFeo into the horse's pedigree and past owners, it turned out to be a once in a lifetime turn of events that the two horses are actually one of the same.

After years of searching, Laurie had finally found Sabrina.

Still in a state of disbelief on Friday morning, Laurie said that it felt like "the universe lined up and something really miraculous happened."

She drove upstate on Saturday to bring her baby's baby home, but what of her first true equine love - Tara?

Although well aware that the mare - now thirty-seven years old if still alive - is likely long past, Laurie's search will remain in earnest until the story of Tara is complete, one way or another.
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