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Second chance

Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of hope.

That’s the motto at Hope’s Chance Horse Sanctuary in Modesto, where owner Sue Forrest and her family have helped abused, abandoned or otherwise forgotten horses find a second chance at life since 2013. The sanctuary is named after Forrest’s nine-year-old granddaughter, Hope Forrest-Guzman, who was born several months early in 2011 and overcame countless medical hurdles as a newborn thanks to doctors at the Stanford Children’s Hospital.

“When it came to naming this place, we realized there was a relationship between the two,” Forrest said. “We give the horses hope just like they gave us hope at Stanford.”

Forrest has been in the horse business since she moved to the Central Valley in 1985, she said, showing the animals and competing in different equestrian sporting events. When it came time to retire from the sport, Forrest’s ranch turned into a sanctuary eight years ago upon the arrival of Nana — the first rescue at Hope’s Chance who had previously been scheduled for slaughter. 

These days, the sanctuary takes care of anywhere from 40 to 50 rescues at a time, saved from abuse, neglect or slaughter, and rehabilitates them until they can find a new home. While young horses are adopted out, most older horses tend to live out the rest of their lives in the peaceful sanctuary. 

Hope’s Chance works closely with local animal control agencies and slaughter feedlots to identify horses who deserve a second chance, providing them veterinary, dental and farrier care upon their arrival. There have been countless success stories for the sanctuary, like one rescue who is now a part of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Posse. 

Forrest’s favorite rescue is Charlie, who came to the sanctuary completely blind, afraid and alone after being sent to slaughter.

“He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Forrest said. “He’s very trusting and as sweet as can be.”

The sanctuary is a nonprofit and operates completely off of donations from the community, and a rotation of local volunteers ensures no horse goes uncared for. Hope herself plays a large role at the facility, helping to train horses and prepare them to one day be someone’s companion. 

“Sometimes she cries when they leave and sometimes she is riding them,” Forrest said. “She has a great deal of fun.”

Forrest said horse adoptions have increased during the pandemic, though the ranch’s income has dwindled. Hope’s Chance Horse Sanctuary hosts frequent fundraisers, and the community can keep up with upcoming events by following the nonprofit on Facebook or by visiting their website, For more information on how to donate funds and supplies, or to volunteer at the sanctuary, call 209-522-0882 or email