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Ruth Plenty makes a home for horses not ready for the finish line

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Second-Chance Ranch, p2

 

 

From the seat of her tractor, Plenty appears comfortable as she hoists bales of hay and moves in and out of the corrals with ranch-hand expertise. As both caretaker and friend of the horses, Plenty makes two rounds of the corrals each day. That's a lengthy hodge-podge of 60 corrals that add up to roughly seven miles of walking and carting buckets of feed.

hope 4

She says that her horses, with all their quirkiness, are much like close friends. There's Blue, with the bad knee, and Mr. Porter, whose eye was purposely damaged. There's Wood Town Bob, Santoni and Tux, who won all those big purses, and Cody who is blind but finally retired. As Plenty passes through the corrals, horses not only take notice of her company, but are eager to greet her for a simple rub on the head.

She estimates that each horse costs an average of $140 per month in a typical year. Then there's the cost of vaccinations, worming and hoof care (every six to eight weeks), fly repellants and masks, blankets for the ill and elderly through the winter. She says an illness can be costly — to euthanize or to bury an expense. "I have to admit that sometimes the worst fear I think about is where the next hay load will come from, but that's just what horse rescuers deal with."

A handful of dedicated volunteers are at the core of her sanctuary. They, says Plenty of her supporters, are well trained and compassionate people — locals like Bobby Schurian, Joy Schneider and Madeline Stamer. "These people come in here and give hours of their time, to love and care for these horses. They're the ones that carry grain pails, scrub the tubs, brush them down when they need it — or, the less glamorous jobs, like just cleaning out stalls.

"But it all has to be done," says Plenty, "day in and day out."

Over the years, Plenty has found both mentors and benefactors. She credits a handful of dedicated horse-lovers like Grace Belcoure of the CERF Foundation and Pam Berg of GEVA (Glen Ellen Vocational Academy) and others who have provided hundreds of horses with a second chance.

Last year, Harmony and Hope was awarded funds to update gates and fencing through CARMA (California Retirement Management Account), a fundraising organization in California that helps retired thoroughbreds. Locally, residents led by Debbie Anbinder worked tirelessly last year to gather volunteers for two fundraisers that raised almost $2,000 in donations.

And Hope and Harmony is hardly alone: Regional horse rescues located in places like Aztec, NM, and Green Valley, Ariz., likewise provide a second chance to horses who deserve proper care and a permanent home. In the Silver City area, End of the Road Ranch and Serenity Acres Equine Rescue work hard to help homeless horses (see box). They are among nine equine rescue operations licensed by the New Mexico Livestock Board.

 

Unfortunately, horses can arrive at Harmony and Hope cranky, frightened or just "head-shy" if they don't feel well. A few carry mistreatment from the past. Most times, they respond with their own kind of gratitude, says Plenty of her lifelong passion for horses. "I tell people, there might be a lot of work here, but I've been doing exactly what I've wanted for the past 17 years — what I feel is important in life. When I can't do it any more, just lay me to rest with the horses."

While her schedule would seem rigorous to a greenhorn — two feedings a day, rain or shine, medicines to apply and stalls to clean — it's mostly routine for Plenty and volunteers. "We try to get the hoof cleaning done for at least 10 to 15 of the horses each day. The pens are cleaned regularly, then there's worming, and vaccinations."

She is particularly proud of the well-stocked storehouse — a place, she says, that operates a little like a catering company, but keeps things organized. Here, you'll find a room full with horse staples. "We have roughly 12 different menus for the horses," says Plenty — special diets for seniors, quarter-horses, racehorses and the sick. Among the general feed products like barley and alfalfa tubs, she has recipes for active and hot-blooded seniors, along with low-protein feeds and high-quality supplements. She explains that horses, like fine athletes, have summer and winter diets to follow.

 

Wrapping up another busy morning at Harmony and Hope Horse Haven, Plenty reflects, "You could say this was always a personal thing I had to do. Bringing them back from injury or neglect is never easy, but it's been awfully rewarding."

Says Plenty of caring for the 60 or so equines who call her ranch their a home, "I have my busy days, and routine ones, and once in a while, a sad day."

She adds, "It's not easy sometimes, but I've never have a bad day when I'm with the horses."

 

 

Other licensed area equine-rescue ranches include:

 

Serenity Acres Equine Rescue

Attn: Rebecca Ferranti

12 Shasta St.

Silver City, NM 88061

(575) 590-4843

 

End Of The Road Ranch

Attn: Carol Johnson

PO Box 5011

Silver City, NM 88062

(575) 313-5714

www.endoftheroadranchnm.com

www.facebook.com/eotrr

 

For more information on Harmony and Hope Horse Haven, see harmonyandhopehorsehaven.com or write PO Box 173, Rodeo, NM 88056.


Dawn Newman-Aerts is a former Minnesota newspaper journalist who lives in Rodeo.


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