With HEART, horses get a new start
By Margo Hernandez
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.24.2009
Horses that have been abused, starved or otherwise neglected are too often abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the desert.
It’s a cruel thing to do — the desert can kill horses as easily as it kills people. But if they are lucky enough to be found alive, the horses may end up at HEART of Tucson, a rescue organization that recently was granted nonprofit status.
“You should see some of them that walk in the door,” HEART President Judy Glore said recently.
Strolling around Lazy Bear Ranch on the far east side is like walking through the chapters of a novel. Every one of the 15 or so horses has a story. And Glore knows them all.
One of the rescues, named Chance, arrived at Glore’s ranch in “shutdown mode” with hips that looked like bat wings. He survived and is flourishing.
Streaking Kitty, who had a successful career on the local racing circuit, could hardly stand and had to be lifted on a crane to repair her feet. When she was found in the desert, she was dehydrated, she couldn’t walk and “she had huge sores on both of her hips,” Glore said.
They identified her through the tattoo on her lip. Now, she too is doing well.
Another, an orphaned foal named Domino who was only weeks old, came in nearly blind in one eye and with a broken leg and several other problems. Today he is thriving under the care of HEART and with the loving companionship of a goat.
Some come in full of sand —which is what they eat when they have no food. They can be helped with love and medical care.
That’s what HEART — Happy Equine Acres Rescue and Therapy — does. Glore and volunteers take in horses that are quite literally on their last legs and nourish them back to health. Then they find foster homes or permanent homes for the healthy horses.
The organization works under the notion that “If you put the time and work into them, they are savable,” Glore said.
It’s a full-time job that takes the effort of a small army of people that includes volunteers, veterinarians and board members who provide help and local connections. Glore’s husband, Mark, donates farrier services.
Most of all, it takes money.
Glore estimates that taking care of rescues on the 5-acre ranch costs somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 per month. The figure does not include medical care or surgery, which can run up to $10,000. “It’s just not an option,” Glore said of the surgeries.
Some of the horses come from what people in the rescue industry call “the killers.” Those are horses saved at auction from buyers who plan to send them to Mexico for slaughter.
Still others are victims of the flaccid economy and owners who can no longer afford to properly care for them.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Karen Pomroy, founder of horse rescue organization Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary in Green Valley.
Pomroy gets calls every day, she said, from people who can no longer afford to keep the animals. “Horses are in serious trouble now,” she said.
Arizona Department of Agriculture livestock officer Brad Cowan agrees.
But this year has not been nearly as bad as last year, he said. Cowan estimates that last year, he rescued about 40 horses that had been abandoned in the Tucson area.
A weak economy coupled with high hay prices and a low demand for horses “made for a horrible combination” over the past three years, Cowan said.
“On occasion I have some horses that need extra care,” Cowan said. He has called on HEART of Tucson more than once to take in a horse. But he also places horses in rescue organizations throughout Southern Arizona.
The problem is that all rescue organizations face the same issues — “a limited amount of resources,” Cowan said.
Glore of HEART of Tucson said that’s why she decided to form the nonprofit. While she has been rescuing horses for years, “I thought I needed to go nonprofit so I can get some help,” she said.
Because there is no lack of horses in need of care, Glore said she has to focus on raising money. The organization does that, in part, by offering educational programs such as Basic Horsemanship, Western and English riding and Horse Tack and Training Aids.
It also has started a program at feed stores, called Pay It Forward, in which buyers can donate food for the rescue horses.
Glore spends a huge amount of time connecting with people who bring horses to her and connecting people with each other.
She has to do that because HEART of Tucson has taken on a never-ending challenge of caring for and finding homes for horses.
But Glore says help comes not only from caring people.
“I think God’s got a big hand in this.”
Contact Margo Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.