Kit Pearson watched Hope and Courage cavort happily in a corral at his sister Cis Kemp's ranch on Friday.
They galloped in circles and rolled in the dirt, healthy and happy " bearing no resemblance to the two starving horses Pearson found wandering in Fish Springs nine months ago.
"I didn't think they'd survive the first night," he said with a mixture of sadness and pride. "I think my sister did a hell of a job."
Friday was the last day Hope and Courage would spend at the 6-acre Fish Springs ranch and Pearson and Kemp were getting ready to say goodbye.
"I get out the old pictures and it's unbelievable the change," Kemp said. "It's the difference between death and life, that's what it is."
On Saturday, the 20-plus-year-old horses moved to their new owners, Tracy and Mark Humboldt, who retired to a small ranch in Stagecoach and adopted the sorrel mare and red roan gelding.
The Humboldts, admitted novices in the care of horses, made a half dozen trips to Kemp's Fish Springs property to visit Hope and Courage before they moved to Nevada from Brookdale, Calif.
"They've been up here doing Horse 101," Kemp said. "They're just awesome. They had a heated barn built and will be brushing those horses every day. Hope and Courage are going to be spoiled."
When Kemp and Pearson rescued the horses in May, the animals were literally skin and bones. Kemp believes they were brought to Fish Springs in a trailer and abandoned. No one ever came forward to claim the animals.
Kemp doesn't waste time thinking who may have treated the horses so badly.
"If I never know, I never know. It's all karma," she said. "Maybe some day we'll all be together in an old-age home and somebody will be nicer to me than they are to them."
Kemp wasn't sure how much the starving horses would recover or if they could ever be ridden.
"The first time Hope lay down, I wasn't sure she would be able to get back up," she said.
But the horses responded to love and care and a steady diet.
Pearson rides Courage regularly, but Hope is still too fragile.
"At one point, Hope was very well broke, but I wouldn't suggest riding her just yet," Kemp said.
The Humboldts learned about the horses through stories in The Record-Courier and contacted Kemp.
"It's such a happy ending," she said. "Hope and Courage are so fat and fuzzy with winter coats. I'm really happy they get to stay together."
They met the Humboldts at Laxague Feed & Supply in Gardnerville to transfer ownership and pick out a new bridle. Kemp and Pearson were taking the horses to their new home and planned to be regular visitors at the Humboldts.
"I would do it again in a heartbeat," Kemp said. "I feel so blessed by this whole experience."