By Guest Blogger,
Cheryl Webb, Founder & Owner
Blue Rose Ranch, Inc. rescues, rehabilitates, and trains horses for adoption. My husband John and I founded Blue Rose Ranch in 2006 because of our concern regarding the growing problem of unwanted horses and the typically inhumane treatment of horses caught in the transport to slaughter facilities. Both of us had volunteered for many years at rescue operations in the Denver area, and searched for an acreage suitable to establish a facility that would allow horses to experience a natural life, thus leading to horses better prepared to be adopted to new permanent homes.
Blue Rose Ranch currently operates on two ranches in southeastern Colorado. Most of the ranch is grassland over which the horses roam and graze. The rescue also has corrals, shelters, an indoor riding arena, and horse training facilities. The location of the main ranch, two miles north of Springfield and along U.S. Hwy 287, allows easy access for volunteers and high visibility for the rescue operation. The Canyon Ranch is located 5 miles from the main ranch. Here our horses roam in herds and enjoy safety and shelter. We find that when horses experience this natural horse life, there is healing from emotional abuse. Our horses are monitored daily for their safety and well-being. Blue Rose Ranch currently has sustainable capacity for 70 horses.
Blue Rose Ranch is one of the largest and most effective horse rescue operations in the region. Experts in the field suggest that there are about 150,000 total unwanted horses in the United States. There are approximately 450 functioning horse rescue operations in the country that are handling about 20,000 horses at any one time. That averages a little over 40 horses per rescue facility. Blue Rose Ranch fills an important need by providing a large facility and by rehabilitating and training the horses in our care. We also provide sanctuary for many horses that are not “adoptable.”
Blue Rose Ranch currently has 70 horses under our care. We operate on over 500 acres, most of which is pasture that provides some natural nourishment for the horses. We also supply hay year-round to supplement the pastures and protect the pastures from overgrazing. Our practice is to stockpile 2 years supply of hay, so that in times of drought, or with high hay and delivery costs, we are able to feed the horses under our care.
The Impact of Inflation on Ranching
In the November 2022 Newsletter published by Blue Rose Ranch, co-founder John Webb shared the following thoughts on hay and the impact on inflation on the Horse Rescue Industry:
“Inputs is a very common word/concept that is used in many industries and disciplines. It is a particularly common term used in agriculture. When a farmer produces a crop, like Teff Hay, a common horse hay, it requires many costly steps from preparing the land for planting, the purchase of the seed, the drilling of the seed, then watering and fertilizing the crop until harvest when the crop is baled and stored until it is hauled to the destination of the purchaser. Tractors, maintenance, fuel (Diesel), labor, repairs, insecticides, weather risk, all contribute significantly to the cost of the hay. Teff is also unlike common grass, in that Teff Hay is an annual farm crop that requires planting from seed each year. The main grass hay we purchase and use at Blue Rose Ranch. The horses absolutely love it.
“The cost of inputs to the farmer is what drives prices and ultimately determines the sales price. The only constant in the process is the profit margin the farmer needs so that he can make a living. All the inputs are subject to inflation; supply chain availability or scarcity, fuel prices, machinery costs, labor, repair costs, parts for everything, delivery (driver labor costs), political and legislative actions, the cost and availability of water, seed costs which are impacted by all of the above.
“In 2022 Teff hay went from $175 a ton to $300, up 71% (not including delivery). At Blue Rose Ranch, we typically use eight to ten semi-loads of large hay bales of Teff Hay, alfalfa and hybrid sorghum each year. In addition, we bring in 300 to 400 small bales of Teff Hay and alfalfa. Our horses, depending on the condition of our eight pastures, consume 500,000 to 600,000 pounds of purchased hay each year.
“Like farmers, end users like us, have to estimate and project costs so that we can plan for the year to come. Inflation along with the cost-driver of supply chain scarcity, and unimaginably high Diesel prices, has harmed all aspects of rural life and has put many out of business. We are fortunate in that we planned early for difficult times and have not been meaningfully harmed except that we had a large over-run on our hay budget and fuel costs.”
An important aspect of the work we do at Blue Rose Ranch is the long-term care of horses who do not find adoptive homes. There are many reasons some horses are not candidates for adoption:
- Some have an injury that prevents them from being ridden or worked.
- Some have “untrusting” dispositions, some were born with defects.
- Many horses come from families who did not understand the long-term financial costs of a horse.
- Some are just old.
Many of the horses at Blue Rose Ranch are older, some with few teeth left for grazing or grinding hay. These horses are on a senior protocol of specialized soaked feeds, fed twice daily. These supplemental feeds are expensive and are an ongoing necessity for our organization.
Our horses are monitored for health and are weighed regularly (some weekly) to determine which level of supplemental feed is needed to help individual horses to thrive. Occasionally horses may be adopted as a “companion” for someone with another lonely horse, but this does not happen often.
A difficulty for many horse rescue organizations is that they are full of non-adoptable horses, and do not have room to take in more. Blue Rose Ranch, because of our size and our approach to sustainable operation, maintains excess capacity to take in horses in need. Hard to adopt horses are sometimes referred to as sanctuary horses.
Sanctuary horses often have a zest for life and desire for interaction with people. Sanctuary horses require the same care as all horses at the rescue, yet often have additional special food and pain control requirement needs. Fifteen percent of the horses at Blue Rose Ranch are sanctuary horses. We would like to highlight some of the horses who have found sanctuary for life at Blue Rose Ranch. Their stories are representative of the issues that cause a horse to need sanctuary.
Little Joe, a beautiful black and white Paint, was “rescued” from an auction sale barn by a lady who had a kind heart. She eventually relinquished Little Joe to Blue Rose Ranch because she could no longer afford to take care of him.
Little Joe was trained and he is a wonderful horse for kids in our Youth Horse Camp. He is not a candidate for adoption because he has a bad habit known as cribbing. A horse who cribs will impulsively bite at solid objects such as a stall door or tie rail. Typically while cribbing, horses swallow air which gives them an endorphin rush. Some horses who crib unchecked lose weight because they would rather crib than eat. Little Joe has few front teeth left after years of unchecked cribbing.
We now keep a cribbing collar on him. This collar squeezes his neck if he positions his head to crib. A cribbing collar fits comfortably when a horse grazes, drinks, or eats from a bale of hay. Little Joe has regained weight lost due to cribbing, and hangs out with his buddies Chief, Tee, and Kenai…all paint horses!
Frank was seized for animal neglect and brought to Blue Rose Ranch by law enforcement. He was severely underweight and wary of people. Frank is a beautiful sorrel gelding, but years of neglect took a toll. He is lame if pushed into a trot and continues to require supplemental feed to maintain weight. Frank has a close-knit group of horse friends – the five are never far from each other.
Frank was rescued because of the intervention of individuals who observed a need and were willing to get involved. We appreciate that those individuals have continued to contribute toward the care of Frank.
Tonka is a sorrel horse with a unique light copper mane. Tall, handsome, good natured, and well-trained, he just got old. His owners had to relocate, could not take their horses, and Tonka was too elderly to sell. Tonka is a great horse and we were happy to give him a home. The alternative for Tonka, and many of the other older horses at Blue Rose Ranch, was a trip to the auction which would have resulted in his slaughter.
Annabelle came to Blue Rose Ranch as part of multi-horse rescue. A riding stable and breeding facility closing, and we responded by taking in 13 horses. Annabelle, a little dun foal, was part of the group and was not doing well. Her mom, for some reason, stopped nursing her. We spent months bottle feeding Annabelle and transitioning her to hay with alfalfa leaves. Annabelle’s mom provided physical companionship, but not nourishment. Annabelle was trained at age three, and soon after was adopted to a good home.
Two years later, Annabelle returned to Blue Rose Ranch as her adoptive owner had lifestyle and career changes. Somewhere along the way, Annabelle injured her back. She moves fine when roaming at her own pace, but weight on her back cannot be tolerated. Chiropractic treatments have provided minimal help. Annabelle is a sweet companion horse. She has been with us for many years, and knows she is home.
Unadoptable horses pose significant challenges for horse sanctuaries. Horses often live to be over thirty years old so cost of keep, veterinary and farrier care, genetic and age-related ailments, behavioral issues, and time weigh heavily on the financial requirements of any well-meaning operation. Consequently, there is a movement among rescue organizations to focus on younger horses who are sound and trainable, therefore suitable for adoption. Older or lame horses are often euthanized.
Blue Rose Ranch is a rescue, adoption, and horse sanctuary organization. We train and rehabilitate horses so they can be successfully adopted to qualified persons with qualified facilities. When adoption is not forthcoming, our mission is to be dedicated to the care and rescue of horses until their natural or merciful death.
Donations from our supporters enable us to provide a peaceful, caring and loving home for discarded or rejected horses. Thank you for helping us with the ongoing care of our sanctuary horses at Blue Rose Ranch.
Blue Rose Ranch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible.
We are located at 30997 US Hwy 287, Springfield, CO 81073
Visit our website: www.blueroseranch.org directors@blueroseranch
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blueroseranch/
See it all on our You Tube Video: https://www.blueroseranch.org/about-brr
Colorado Animal Protectors is proud to call Blue Rose Ranch a CAP Protection Partner!