Halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, in Varysburg, NY, lies a safe haven for Draft horses. Roanchar Ranch provides refuge for afflicted Draft horses. Lida founded the ranch in 2013 because she saw a need for a place where Draft horses could escape slaughter houses and cruel treatment after years of hard work.
The age of horses living on the ranch ranges between 7-20 years old. These horses are often “retired” once they can no longer meet the demanding requirements of their work. However, it isn’t the type of retirement you and I hope to enjoy one day. Their days are not filled with play and leisure. Instead, these horses are cast aside. Simple needs like regular meals and vet care are often neglected. In many cases, these horses are sent to auction, where “kill buyers” snatch them up to ship to slaughter-houses.
The fortunate horses who find their way to Roanchar Ranch have a chance at a new life-- one where they are finally valued as full beings rather than work tools. When they arrive, they are placed on a custom weight gain program, overseen by vet Dr. Anne Dewar. Once healthy, the focus shifts to retraining these horses to be companions. Using a natural horsemanship philosophy as the basis of the training program, horses are given the opportunity to becoming willing partners.
As you can imagine, the work of regaining a horse's’ confidence and trust is time consuming. Because of the small scale of the Roanchar Ranch program, they are able to provide individualized care to abused and abandoned horses. This leads to great success.
One example of a successful rehabilitation is the story of Maggie. She came to the Rescue Ranch afraid of the world. Lida recalls, “She had every right to be after being severely beaten for 45 minutes and dropped to the ground several times by the hands of a ‘trainer.’” For months, Maggie could not trust her caretakers. Even then, only a select few could groom her.
Today, she is a different horse. She enjoys visitors to the Rescue, especially children. The time caretakers were able to dedicate to Maggie has revived her spirit. She now has a new outlook on life. She is finally ready to find her forever home. Lida hopes Maggie can go to that place soon.
Of course, not just anyone can adopt a horse like Maggie. Potential adoption homes must go through a thorough application process. This process includes a detailed application and strong references. Lida says that adopting a horse means adopting the Rescue Ranch too. The Ranch likes to keep tabs on the progress of the horses and provide support during the transition. Once the horses come to Roanchar Ranch, they become family, even after they move on to their forever homes. The tight-knit bonds that form at the ranch last a lifetime.
Lida hopes to help overcome the perception that Draft horses are not ridable. They make excellent companions and are known to be “gentle giants.” Their personality makes them a great choice as a partner in many of the equine activities you may enjoy. She is accomplishing this goal, one horse at a time, at Roanchar Ranch.
If you are interested in loaning or donation your horse trailer to this particular organization, then check out details of our Horse Trailer Donation and Sharing Program here. Then, post your comments below to help out!
Also, learn more about horse rescues in these two articles: