Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Janet Rose and Horse Haven Montana

Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we recognize Janet Rose for her work in rehoming horses and mules.

Janet Rose with Rocko, one of the retired USFS horses. Rocko was adopted by a retired couple and is living out his years with two other senior adoptees. He’s now 26 years old. Photo courtesy of Janet Rose.

Earlier this summer, the United States Forest Service (USFS) recognized Janet Rose for her dedication and success in safely placing mules and horses retired from USFS Ranger Station duty into safe and permanent homes.

In 2007, Rose founded Horse Haven Montana, a 501(c)(3) that has helped federal and county agencies like the USFS and Border Patrol to ensure the welfare of equines that have fulfilled their service. However, Rose does not just rehome horses that have served federal agencies; she also secures adoptive homes for guest and dude ranches and private individuals who either can no longer provide homes for their horses or who are worried about making sure they find the right home for their equines.

Rose began her journey in rehoming horses and mules when she heard about horses that had been abandoned on a local neighbor’s property. Hay prices were soaring, the economy was impacting horse owners, and people were having difficulty providing for their horses. Rose stepped in and utilized her background in media, 4H and natural horsemanship training to find the horses safe and permanent homes.

Since then, she has dedicated her time, energy and resources to finding responsible, caring and permanent homes for a wide variety of equines. From the USFS riding and pack horses and mules to those of private owners, she looks for adoptable, responsible, committed homes for horses and mules.

Rose says that her main goal is to find the “best home possible” for every horse or mule with which she works. Horse Haven Montana is not a sanctuary and Rose does not house many horses at one time. She does have a quarantine and layup facility for when it’s necessary, but she hopes to help horses avoid neglect, abuse and slaughter in the first place.

Per Rose, “I can’t save hundreds of horses.” Instead, it’s about helping “one person at a time, one horse at a time.”

Stacy Richardson, a volunteer trainer, with yearling Crystal Rose. Crystal Rose was adopted after being rescued by Horse Haven Montana and receiving a year of gentle, natural horsemanship training. Photo by Tom Richardson.

For Rose, part of matching horses to people is doing her due diligence before a horse is rehomed. Rose uses her background in investigative journalism, the skills of which she puts to use when screening adoptive homes and networking to get the word out to find the best homes possible.

She starts by assessing the horses she is responsible for rehoming so that she can ensure the right horse goes to the right person.  As she is working with potential adopters, she makes a point to check their references thoroughly, screen their homes and barns and confirm that they are prepared for horse ownership.

“It’s so important to match the horse to the person, and the person to the horse,” added Rose.

Scout and his little girl. Photo courtesy of Janet Rose.

Rose says that she typically places 10 to 15 horses and mules a year. Once a horse is adopted, Rose follows up with the new owners to make sure that the match is a good one. If there are issues, she works with the owners to rehome the horses as necessary. Everyone who adopts a horse through Horse Haven Montana must sign a no auction, no sale, no slaughter contract.

Among the horses she has placed, there are those that stand out to her.

One of which was from a couple that was looking to rehome their horse that was blind in one eye. The couple was capable of caring for the horse and he was not a rescue, but they did not ride any longer and the horse’s companion had passed away. They wanted to make sure the horse went to the right home, so they contacted Rose. The horse was originally placed with a family that turned out to be a poor fit. When they told Rose, the horse went back to its original owners.

Then a family with several children called Rose. The family rode and took lessons together. They came and rode the horse and one of the young boys bonded with him immediately. Upon follow up, Rose found out that the boy adored the horse and vice versa. Also, because the family always rode as a group, the horse was confident and his blindness was no limitation.

Another adoption story that stood out to Rose came from a young cowboy who had a semi-feral Mustang. It was the dead of winter (many of Rose’s stories took place in the dead of winter – isn’t that always how it goes?) and the cowboy needed to leave immediately for a job in Oregon. When he called Rose, he was looking for the horse to be rehomed the next day – essentially 12 hours from the time of the call.

The cowboy said that if the horse could not find a home for the horse, he would turn it loose. Rose indicated that this spelled certain death for the horse, given the frigid winter temperatures, and that was unacceptable to her. Rose was able to make arrangements with a friend to foster the horse until more permanent arrangements could be made.

The friend lived in “the middle of a remote, hard-to-get-to wooded area — almost backcountry,” per Rose. Thus, they had to coordinate getting the horse to the friend’s property – no easy feat with snow and ice on the ground. Fortunately, the cards fell into place and they were able to get the horse to the foster home. However, within a few months, the foster home was ready for the horse to find its permanent home.

Although the horse had been minimally handled, it had a sweet and willing nature. Therefore, Rose placed him with a couple who owns a 400-acre ranch and is working with a Mustang trainer to turn him into a well-mannered riding horse.

“It’s about problem solving,” said Rose.

John, a wrangler from Sky Dog Sanctuary, who attended the EQUUS INTERNATIONAL Film Festival, and Janet. Photo by Pat Roberts.

Much of what Rose focuses on has to do with education and outreach. Therefore, she began the EQUUS INTERNATIONAL Film Festival (EIFF) in 2011. Per its website, the goal of the EIFF is “to enhance the equine/human bond and to improve the welfare and well-being of the horse.” The EIFF gives film makers a forum to reach people and provide information to the public. It is sponsored by many generous organizations and individuals including the Resort at Paws Up, the Paws Up Foundation and the Humane Society of the United States.

Rose wants people to know that adoption is a viable and valuable solution, process and alternative to abuse, neglect and slaughter. She emphasizes that is important that people aren’t afraid to ask for help before the horses in their care are in crisis. “There are wonderful horses to be had through adoption,” says Rose, “and you are saving a life and gaining a new, great friend.”

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.


Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *