Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week we salute the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank.
This week’s honoree:
Founded by Juliana Lehman, the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank’s mission is “keeping horses with their people during times of financial hardship or natural disaster.” Juliana kindly took the time to answer our questions about this unique, community-minded organization.
Who are you typically assisting with the foodbank?
Typically we’re helping horsepeople with temporary problems or setbacks. A lot of people are losing their jobs, or maybe going through a divorce. For many, the horses are their heart and soul, and losing them would be absolutely devastating. Some are even working ranch families that have lost their income or whose taxes are suddenly being raised. Sometimes it’s been two years later after someone loses their job, and maybe they’ve sold their truck, or their trailer, and they’re finally realizing that they really need help and they call us.
How does the foodbank work? What feed and services are you providing?
On average, we’ll help someone for three or four months, but it’s on a case-by-case basis. Our aid allows horse owners to gain enough time to make smart decisions about their horses’ future–if they do need to sell them, they have the time to find a good home rather than making a hasty decision. Sometimes the aid just gives people the hope they need to get back on their feet, get up in the morning and start to rebuild their lives. People will call us years later to thank us.
Primarily, we provide feed. We can also provide help for veterinary or farrier services. Usually if we can handle the hay for them, and some grain, they can start budgeting again and pay the farrier and vet bills. Over time as owners rebuild their lives, we can sell them hay at a reduced rate to help them work up to supporting their horses again.
Sometimes we serve as a sounding board or a voice of support to help them make a tough decision about a horse, and sometimes we just provide a shoulder to cry on.
How did the foodbank get started?
When the economy crashed, we started hearing about families losing their horses. I know what that’s like firsthand–when I was 12, my parents got a divorce and after about a year or so my dad sold the ranch and my horse. Every now and then I wonder about that horse. I know how it feels to have something you love taken away from you.
So when other families were also forced to lose their horses, I knew I wanted to help. We don’t need property and a building to operate, so we don’t need to spend money on maintaining a facility. Our money can go directly to helping people. We’re helping the horse rescues by allowing people to continue keeping their horses at home; we help families work to continue to support their horses and out of the overcrowded rescues.
Any upcoming fundraisers?
We do an annual spring flower sale–that was the first fundraiser that got the ball rolling initially. Now it’s got a big following so we do one every year.
Our fourth annual Cattle Ranch Ride is coming up in May. People fly in from all over the country for this–Darcy and Tom Carr at Colorado Cattle Company have been amazing about welcoming us in. A lot of folks come in for a fun weekend with their friends.
What’s next for Colorado Horsecare?
We’ve just received a big grant from the ASPCA to help us form a new strategic plan that will allow us to better help horse owners in need. We’re working on new ways to educate people about horses to make sure that horses stay in the picture–some of the problems that we see stem from a lack of education in the general public. We’re also putting together a tool kit for anyone across the country who is looking to start a horse foodbank–there’s a lot of information that we know now firsthand that can help another organization get started.
We’re always working on ways to collaborate with horse rescues and other aid groups–we need to work together in order to look at long-term solutions to our horse problems. We’re not here to compete with other groups but to collaborate to help each other out. There’s a huge potential to network all across the country, like, say, areas that are in drought or are suffering wildfires.
We applaud the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank for the work that they do. The food bank is in the process of developing a brand-new website, but in the meantime we encourage our Horse Nation readers to follow the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank via Facebook.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.