updated 08/11/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/11/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Since then, Boles, 32, has ridden a healthy, obedient Bonita into polo tournaments around the world and turned her foal, Betty Boop, into a topflight polo pony too. In a sport where horses can cost more than $100,000, Boles has become the horse whisperer of the polo world, turning cast-off horses into the sport's only team of all-rescued mounts. Her secret? "Extreme patience and never expecting more than what a horse is capable of doing."
Says polo club owner Jan Michel: "I've seen her take horses you couldn't pay me to get on. She can really communicate with these animals."
Boles, who is wed to Steve, 52, an insurance salesman, hopes other Bonitas will avoid the slaughterhouse. "It sickens me," she says. "So many could be given a second life."