Out of the Blue


By all outlooks, the big, flea-bitten grey didn’t have very many options. The day he ultimately could have faded away, turned out to be his luckiest. Here’s how a horse with a bleak future, transformed into one of the sweetest Valentine stories of all time.


By Jenn Webster, Photos by Jessica Wilson

Katie Rochon and Natalie Kowalenko of Calgary, AB, had their minds made up that day in June, 2020. They had a truck with a full tank of gas, a trailer and they were not leaving the horse sale they had planned to attend in Tofield, AB, without something in tow. The ladies had come to find an equine prospect that could potentially, use a new lease on life.

It was a long battle, but they found such a prospect in a grey horse who had been dropped off by his owners around 1:30 pm that day, along with two other stablemates. It was late in the auction and the group of three horses had missed the opportunity to be sold as “trained horses,” or horses with potential – to an according, discerning buyer. As the grey came through the ring near the end of the sale many of the day’s buyers had left, having already spent their budgets or previously finding what they needed.


A nameplate engraved for Blue’s new owner.

“By this point it was really only the ‘wildies,’ untouched, young stock, unhealthy or feral types that were remaining,” relays Natalie Kowalenko of Calgary, AB.

“It was very busy and I remember people saying they couldn’t believe the turnout – but it was also one of the first big horse sales after Covid had started. Horses are supposed to be good in health to go to auction but there’s only so many brand inspectors in Alberta, so it’s hard to police that, I guess,” Kowalenko says.

While most Alberta auction houses state that they rely on the honesty of sellers and have a zero tolerance policy for sellers who misrepresent their consignments, the fact remains that it still happens. And what is an auction house to do if horses are literally dropped off in their yard, without a previous owner to speak for them?



Focusing back on that day in June 2020, Kowalenko and Rochon were determined to come home with something, but for some reason they kept missing out on bids. The girls had been advised by a spokesperson at the Horse Heroes AB Community who the “meat buyers” in the audience were and were dead-set against bidding against other family buyers in the audience who may provide good homes for anything coming through the sale.

“Therefore, we got into a bidding war with a meat buyer and finally were the winning bid on the grey at almost the end of the day. He was $550 on my debit card and the weirdest experience of my life!” Kowalenko states.


Sienna Goldau received a truly heartfelt surprise today.

Kowalenko and Rochon brought the big grey back to Calgary and began training and taking care of him. Fast forward to 2024 and the horse blossomed into a kind and talented English prospect. The girls named him, Out Of The Blue (“Blue” for short,) as he literally appeared into their lives in an unexpected and abrupt manner.

“It just seemed like an appropriate name for him,” Kowalenko laughs.

“Our trainer told us this year that he could probably be sold now for $10,000. But it was never about the money for us. We just wanted to find a horse that could use a good home.”

At the barn where Kowalenko and Rochon board, they met a 13-year-old girl by the name of Sienna Goldau. With time, Goldau wore Blue’s owners down and began riding, then half-leasing Blue. She had grown as fond of the grey as Kowalenko and Rochon were.

“Over time we realized Blue would be a perfect horse for Sienna.”


“Every horse deserves, at least once in its life to be loved by a little girl.” – Unknown


Kowalenko and Rochon hatched a plan to “gift” Blue to Sienna this Valentine’s Day, with permission from her family, of course.

“Sienna is a great little rider and we know Blue will have a great home with them. Like I said, it was never about the money. The whole purpose was to give Blue a second chance at life,” Kowalenko explains.

Earlier today, Blue’s auction saviours gifted the horse to Sienna in a surprise gathering. Wearing a bright pink bow and a newly engraved name-plate on his halter, Kowalenko and Rochon handed Blue’s halter shank over to his new owner.

(L to R) Blue with Katie Rochon, Sienna Goldau and Natalie Kowalenko.
Blue stands with his new family.


If that’s not a feel-good story for you, we don’t know what is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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