The National Rescue Ride:
Help for abandoned horses

Joe and Honey have been inseparable for years.

Joe is blind, so Honey does the seeing for them both. Joe sticks close to her side and does whatever Honey does.

Blind as Joe is, though, if he ever finds himself separated from Honey he can run like the wind until he finds her and then settles back into quietly shadowing her every movement.

Joe and Honey are just two of the seven horses that have found refuge with LASSO at Star Ridge Ranch in Pagosa.

The hard work that the local horse rescue program has been doing since 2000 just got harder: LASSO, Large Animal Support Southwestern Organization, a non-profit agency based out of Star Ridge Ranch, in East Echo Canyon, supports the large animal community and their owners in need of assistance.

Recently, the United States Congress banned the slaughter of American horses for human consumption overseas, as well as the export of American horses to other countries for slaughter.

Since the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 was passed, there have been more and more reports of abandoned horses left to starve because owners can’t afford their upkeep or don’t have the means to properly dispose of them, said Jim Santomaso, president of Livestock Marketing Association’ in a report by Purdue Animal Sciences.

And the Southwest is no exception. In Pagosa, LASSO has seen a huge increase in the number of horses needing care.

According to the USDA, more than 100,000 horses were slaughtered in the United States in 2006 — primarily to provide meat for dinner tables in Asia and Europe. Since congress passed the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, approximately the same number of unwanted horses have been abandoned alive in the U.S.

“In our area alone I get two to five phone calls per week concerning animals left behind in a paddock, left in forests, left on roadsides, or owners themselves calling that can’t feed them anymore,” said Diann Hitchcox, the director of operations at LASSO.

As the problem of abandoned horses grew after the law was passed, it became clear to animal rights activists across the country that something had to be done.

As a result, 80 charities from more than 35 states will take part in the first-ever national ride-a-thon/walk-a-thon, the National Rescue Ride, to raise money and awareness for neglected, abused and unwanted horses.

Our own LASSO, is proud to be a participating organization in this effort.

Everyone is invited to participate in the event, whether on foot or on horseback, on Saturday, Oct. 19 Entrants in the ride-a-thon/walk-a-thon are asked to find sponsors to donate to the cause.

It costs a lot of money to take care of an abandoned horse, said David Richardson, the president of LASSO. If we’re going to care for horses, we need to raise more money.

According to LASSO, it costs $35 to trim a horse’s hooves for two months, $75 per month to feed just one horse; $60 will pasture one horse for one month, and it requires $110 to vaccinate one horse for six months. And the list goes on.

LASSO members hope that participating in the National Rescue Ride fund-raiser will help deflect a percentage of these costs for the horses they are currently caring for, and for the many more that are out there.

Beyond participating in the ride-a-thon/walk-a-thon, concerned citizens can go even further to support one of the thousands of horses left for dead in the U.S. LASSO facilitates adoption of abandoned horses. Through networking, LASSO places 10 or more horses per year in foster care here in the Southwest.

Come meet some of the beautiful horses that are up for adoption, go for a ride, enjoy a continental breakfast and enjoy the fall with LASSO at the Star Ridge Ranch.

For more information, or to register for the National Rescue Ride, visit www.lassohorseresuce.org or call 264-0095.