Each month, HN partners with SnarkyRider.com to spotlight a deserving horse rescue. This month, Run For Home Haven and A Friend In Need Equine, two branches of a single rescue, are our featured organizations.
First some rescue history – how long have you both been doing this? How did you get started in the rescue “business”?
Run for Home [Mount Shasta, Calif.] has had its 501(c)3 for a year but we have been helping thoroughbreds for over 10 years. I started a thoroughbred rescue because my family has been in the Thoroughbred Racetrack Business for 5 generations on both sides. (Mom & Dad). I never remember not having a place to take our horses when they were no longer useful at the racetrack. We have had property in Mount Shasta for over forty years for the purpose of turning out the horses that could no longer perform. My mother was no different than any other trainer in those days; everyone had a responsibility towards their horses and lived up to it. Then things started to change in the business and more and more horses were suffering a cruel fate, either winding up in a backyard starving or at the kill buyers.’ I decided about ten years ago that I was going to go a different way and help repay the animals that helped us earn a living all those years. However, when I was first thinking about this, I was still working for the state testing horses after they run for drugs. At that particular time, I was assigned to the Standard reds at Sacramento Racetrack. So the first horses I brought home were trotters not thoroughbreds. I brought home and re-homed 9 of these horses. I did not include them on my Web because I was trying to stick to thoroughbreds. Also, the horses I am getting now in the way of thoroughbreds have extreme injuries with a minimum of 2 years recovery time. Our horses’ injuries range from one with two slab fractures to some pretty bad chips in the knees along with a bowed tendon.
A Friend In Need Equine Rescue started about eleven years ago. I started taking in feral mustangs and gentling and retraining them to find them good homes to adopters that couldn’t deal with a feral horse. I got started doing this because I wanted to be better trainer, and help the mustangs. Darla at Strawberry Mountain Mustangs provided the mustangs at that time. You can learn a lot from a mustang – it really helped my communication skills on the ground and in the saddle as a Dressage rider. As the economy tanked, I began helping the domestic horses in need in Siskiyou County. I just recently joined forces with Valdia at Run For Home Haven and we are working together, taking on the equine needs of the largest, poorest county in California.
What are some of your goals with the rescues?
RFH: I have only one goal for a rescue, no matter if he or she leaves here as a riding horse or a pasture mate, and that is they be Loved and Taken Care Of. I supposed we are a lot slower here than a lot of rescues, we only take a max of ten horses and each horse will stay as long as three years counting the healing time and training. Of course, while they are healing, we do a lot of ground work with them, but then a thoroughbred is already used to a lot of attention before they become a liability. However, we like them to get used to us working from both sides, not just the usual left side they are used to. Also, while in the healing process, we will put saddle pads and a light stock saddle on for about 10 minutes the first day, working our way up to longer times. This way, by the time we are ready to put weight on, we already know if they are cinchy or still leary of the stirrups. When the first weight does go on ours, it is bareback. Our horses learn to interact with every other kind of animal we can acquaint them with; we have two rescue hogs. They soon learn to get along.
FINER: I want to expand my rescue and get some more property so I can help more horses in need!!! So few adopters out there. And find more people to sponsor the unadoptable horses in my rescue that have soundness issues. $50 a month to sponsor a horse would help so much. Sponsorships get email updates and photos of the horse, and can come out and visit him/her. Great for people that want to care for a horse but can’t afford one.
What kind of projects are you working on? I believe I read somewhere something about a hay bank?
RFH: I have applied to the IRS to amend our status to include a Hay Bank. Siskiyou County has a lot of people who do love their horses but with today’s economy, many need help to get through the tough times. We are in the process of studying other successful Hay Banks so we can run it without it being abused, yet help those who really need it.
FINER: I am helping Valdia with the hay bank she wants to start here, and also any unwanted or neglected horses in our area. We are also serving as a supplement to Animal Control to help on reported cases involving horses when we can. We have had owners call and need to re-home their horses – or even want to keep their horse but they cannot afford the high cost of feed – we will either try to help them find another home by advertising, etc, help the owner with feed and trimming or needed medications to help them keep their horse in the home instead of going to a rescue, or give a variety of different options to help the owner and make sure the horse does not end up neglected or starved.
I believe I read on Run for Home Haven’s website that you’ve helped 8 horses? Can I ask, why so few? (p.s. I don’t mean that in a bad way!!)
I’m not sure of RFH’s number, but FINER has saved well over 50 horses right now, and 28 of those were outright adoptions from the rescue. Some horses that I found on the internet or was contacted about, I was able to find a safe place for them to relocate to, be it a fellow rescue, sanctuary, or someone looking for such a horse on my adoptions list. I was not involved in any transaction and did not charge a fee on these, just gave them the info and they got the horse from the owner after using my screening process (adoption criteria, application, references and vet check, etc).
Does your retraining/re-homing process differ from other rescues? How long, on average, does each horse stay with you before being re-homed?
FINER’s training process I believe DOES differ a lot form other rescues. I retrain sound, healthy horses that come in here just like a trainer – they get worked nearly every day in the good weather season, I do tons of natural horsemanship, groundwork and desensitization with them with all kinds of scary objects, lunging, trailer loading, bathing, tying, clipping, shoeing, address any other issues like bad manners on the ground, hard to handle feet, moving while mounting, do lots of arena work with bending and suppling exercises, riding out on the trail, making sure they are solid trail horses that are safe for adopters. I don’t want anyone to get hurt and I don’t want the horse to bounce again – trying for a forever home. My rescue horses (if sound and able) also give riding lessons until they are adopted. I have had a few horses (mostly mustangs) that were just not safe to be riding horses. I have found pasture situations for them so they can live a normal free life, safe from slaughter, but necessaries like trimming and health care are still managed. Some rescue horses are here for a few months but many are here over a year. It takes that long to change some of the dangerous habits they have, or to rehabilitate an injury. My adoption fees also vary. A new rescue is adoptable for $200. Once I start putting lots of time into them, however, the fee goes up. Once their issues are completely fixed, I change their status to “For Sale” – this is generally one year after they arrive here. I offer them for sale from $500 to $1200 and this helps feed the other horses. I read somewhere that someone said that if you have a horse for adoption for over $200, you are not a reputable rescue. But I don’t think she was taking into consideration someone who is a professional trainer by trade and really trains them, I think she was referring to rescues that just feed and care for them until a home is found. Not only are these horses retrained – I think that higher fees on the trained ones turns a lot of bad homes away from applying for adoption.
What kind of car would a mustang drive? Do you think they’d go for their obvious namesake, or would they prefer something a little higher class? Or maybe more of a working-type vehicle?
RFH: A thoroughbred would drive a Lamborghini: sleek, fast and classy.
FINER: A mustang would drive a full-size Dodge pickup with a flatbed. Easy to pull up to the hay barn and have the whole thing loaded to the top with hay via a squeeze. He’d probably have a Cummins Diesel so he could drive out of there real quick when the hay broker realized that mustangs have no pockets – and therefore, no money.
Do you think, since Thoroughbreds are typically highstrung, that if we fed them coffee they’d be literally bouncing off the walls? Or, would it be one of those cases where the high energies cancelled each other out and we’d finally find a good way to help them mellow?
I have one goofball who insists on wearing the water tub on his head. He (Bubba) got loose one day while I was gone ( an expert at gate latches) and jogged from Mount Shasta to Weed and back, and that was without the morning coffee. If he had had the caffeine he might have gone another ten miles.
What’s the better cartoon? Rocky and Bullwinkle or Scooby Doo. And why?
RFH: Scooby Doo is definitely my favorite. Bubba is so much like him: eat and get in trouble. I am surprising Bubba this summer with automatic waterer–lets see him wear that!
FINER: SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS BABY!!!!!!
Guess next time I’ll have to ask Sponegebob vs. Scooby Doo!
Presented by SnarkyRider.com