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Virus halts fundraising, horse rescue needs community support


Last updated 4/10/2020 at 2:56pm

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Three of the rescued Yakama mustang yearlings enjoy a bale of grass hay. After their long journey, they did little else but sleeping and eating.

Story and Photos by Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Next Step Horse Rescue (NSHR), a nonprofit organization located in Ellicott, recently took in nine neglected young mustangs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of their fundraising events have had to be cancelled and local adoptions have stopped. NSHR must stay open during this pandemic to help the community and the horses that need help.

"We operate like the hospitals; we're essential. We can't shut down," NSHR President Betina Tacoronte explained. "Where would the horses go? We have to stay open and take the horses in."

Founded in 2008, the rescue provides a home for abused, neglected and unwanted horses. These horses come from law enforcement agencies, humane societies and shelter-to-shelter transfers.

Tacoronte said volunteers are still coming to work and the rescue is still open; however, they need help.

"We have lost all of our ability to fundraise, which is our main source of income to sustain our shelter," Tacoronte said.

They do not receive any governmental or grant assistance. Their primary revenue source is sponsorships and fund-raising events paid for by volunteers, participants, and donations received from generous individuals and businesses.

"We have three or more fundraising events scheduled every month throughout the year," she said.

One of their big fundraisers, a spring break horse camp for kids held in March, usually brings in over $6,000 in donations but had to be cancelled.

"As a rescue, we cannot close our doors and turn our backs on the horses in need," Tacoronte added. "Right now we are in desperate need of assistance. The horses still have to eat and they still have to be taken care of."

Currently, there are 34 horses at the rescue including some new baby mustangs.

Tacoronte explained a horse rescue in Texas took in over 100 horses without having enough funding to properly care for them. She said they are what is referred to as "a rescue turned hoarder."

A sister rescue, Remedy Ranch Rescue in Texas, offered to place 30 of these horses and reached out to other rescues across the country to take some of them. NSHR already had a full barn yet agreed to take six horses. They ended up with nine: two mares and seven youngsters, ranging from 1 to 2 years old. Sadly, the yearlings look more like weanlings because of malnutrition. Danielle Leftridge, NSHR shelter manager, said six of the babies are originally from the Yakama Reservation in Washington state. These mustangs are not governed by the BLM, and therefore do not have the typical mustang brand on their neck; however, they can be registered with the American Indian Horse Registry.

Eight of these horses arrived at the rescue last Thursday. The ninth one, also the youngest, was too weak to make the entire trip so the hauler left it at an Oklahoma rescue. The baby has since improved and will soon be traveling to NSHR.

Donations needed

The rescue needs donations during this difficult period. Anything you might be able to donate would be greatly appreciated.

They need feed and supplies including grass hay (large or small bales), and a grain growth formula suitable for young horses. This can be dropped off at 2222 N. Ellicott Hwy. in Ellicott.

They are also asking for donations of the following items: nine over-the-panel hanging grain feeders; two livestock round hay feeders; Sand Clear (or a psyllium product to mix in to grain); nine lead ropes; one mineral block and one salt block holder; electrolytes for water and electrolyte paste tubes.

Next Step Horse Rescue President, Betina Tacoronte, is pictured with a friendly rescued baby mustang.

Readers can call (719) 213-9144 if they have a large item donation and arrange for pick-up. They can also order feed at any Big R on behalf of the rescue. Leave the yard pick slip with the cashier and then call NSHR to let them know items are available to be picked up at Big R.

Mustangs adoption coming later

Tacoronte said these horses seem to be good-minded and might be suitable as children's 4-H horses. She explained they first need proper nourishment and care, then they will be worked with so they are safe to be with on the ground, halter, and lead, pick their feet up and load in a trailer. Later, when they become available for adoption, they will be fully vaccinated, have a current Coggins test and paperwork. The horses will be available for adoption to qualified buyers starting out at $500.

The rescue is also looking for volunteers willing to work a four-hour shift at least once a week. Volunteers will go through an orientation and be trained how to work with the horses.


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