Many people who venture to central Florida are in search of Mickey Mouse and adventure parks. But the Dream Catchers Horse Ranch and Rescue, located just 30 minutes from Disney World, is more focused on rescuing horses and transforming their lives.
The organization started almost by accident when founder Alison Wheatley got her first horse at the age of 43. Within two short years, she was hard at work saving horses from euthanasia at the local animal shelter.
When asked what types of horses come into her barn, Alison replied, “We have all sorts!” Animals range from those found wandering in the streets to those picked up by animal control. Some of the horses have terrible injuries and were left abandoned. Others were reluctantly donated when their original owners succumbed to medical issues or age.
Alison is thankful for her great team of volunteers that help keep the ranch and rescue running with regular care and feeding. Many of the horses need special attention to regain their health. “It’s a slow and long process to ensure they don’t get more sick from being starved. We have a local vet who works with us for injuries and health issues.
Besides physical rehabilitation, horses at the DreamCatchers Horse Ranch and Rescue also receive training from a professional who comes in twice a week. A group of experienced riders use some of the horses for lessons. “We like to try and train them as quiet hunters or trail riding pleasure horses,” Alison explained.
One particular horse that sticks out in Alison’s mind is a gelding named St. Nicholas (Nicky for short.) He is a one-eyed horse who was found wandering the streets on Christmas of 2013.
Alison continued, “He was underweight and had serious skin allergies – he looked terrible. He ended up becoming the best beginner lesson horse and taught many children to ride here at Dreamcatcher. He is now retired and will live his years out with us and his sponsors’ love and attention!”
In order to find new homes for the rescued horses, the DreamCatchers Horse Ranch relies on social media and referrals from past clients. Alison shared, “We have the potential adopters come out and spend time with the horse and ensure it’s a good fit. Many adopters end up boarding eh horse with us so it’s a win/win situation.”
Financial stability is the biggest challenge for this operation. They exist on a month to month basis and always appreciate donations or help with fundraisers. These funds help them take “hopeless” horses and transform them into healthy and happy family horses.
Besides rescue operations, DreamCatchers also offers community programs and activities during the week. Some of the rescue horses who have earned a permanent home at the ranch are used as public trail-riding horses. All proceeds go towards the operation of the rescue.
If you would like to get involved with this organization, check out the information below:
DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue
Location: Clermont, FLDonations: 10639 Toad Rd Clermont, FL 34715
If you would like to participate in our Horse Rescue Trailer Donation and Sharing program with this rescue, comment below.