PALOMINAS, Ariz. (AP) — Inflation is kicking everyone hard and the people who run a horse rescue ranch in southern Cochise County also are feeling the pain too as prices for everything from feed to medication continue to skyrocket.
But lately, Horse’n Around Rescue Ranch And Foundation organizers Theresa Warrell and Steve Boice have been confronted with the heartbreak of horse owners who have been forced to give up their beloved animals because they can no longer afford to feed them or care for them medically.
The non-stop rise in the cost of hay and bag feed, for example, as well as medications that are required for some horses, has made keeping such animals as companions and members of the family untenable, Warrell and Boice said.
At the ranch where 65 horses are being cared for, Warrell said she receives calls almost daily from desperate horse owners who are asking if Horse’n Around will take their equines.
In an email Warrell sent out recently to ranch volunteers and members of the ranch’s newsletter, she wrote: “INFLATION is hitting us all hard. We are receiving more calls than usual from horse owners who have to make the choice between feeding their family or their horses. As animal lovers our hearts are aching for the horses experiencing a decline in quality of care due to their owners’ financial restraints and limitations.”
Sitting just outside the arena where horses are trained twice a year by volunteers of Horse’n Around so the animals can become adoptable, Warrell pointed to three new horses that joined the ranch in the last couple of months simply because their owners could no longer provide their animals’ needs.
The rescue ranch, which has been in operation for longer than a decade, has traditionally been the safe and compassionate haven for abused and neglected horses that have made their way to Warrell and Boice via law enforcement rescues or other means.
But now with the inflation situation, the ranch has turned into the place where those who do love and care for their horses are calling for help.
“Imagine yourself being a horse owner and having to find a place for your horse because of the economy,” Warrell said. “Nobody wants to take them because all the rescues are full. You’re trying to do the right thing by your horse and your options are limited ... it’s heart wrenching.
“At the rescue we often take neglected, abused or starving horses, or horses people can’t keep any longer. But in addition to that, with the situation with inflation, we are getting calls almost daily — as is every rescue — from people who can no longer afford to keep some of their horses or all of their horses.
“They want them to go somewhere. Usually the ones they want to give up might have some limitations as far as not being rideable, not trained, or an old injury, something that makes them difficult to sell.
“(But) any decent horse owner certainly wants whatever is best for their horse because they’re part of the family.”
In the last couple of months or so, the ranch has taken in three horses from loving homes, but whose owners were suffering with health issues and could not afford to keep the animals. More calls have poured in since then.
Warrell said generally, Horse’n Around Rescue has been known as the one place where equines that had nowhere to to go were welcome.
“And we are still that,” Warrell said. “But there needs to be a place where horses can go where people can afford to feed them, like a food bank. There needs to be a place where people can be helped to keep their horses in the short term.”
Boice said the increase in feed and hay that is crippling not only them, but other rescue ranches and working ranches in the area.
A 100-pound bale of hay costs $25.50, but Warrell said the word is that will increase to $30 by the fall.
“That causes a panic among horse owners and suddenly that family member who is so loved becomes a financial burden,” Warrell said.
She said the cost of worming protocol for their animals has more than doubled in the past two years and feed has increased more than 20% in the last seven months and keeps rising.
Boice said feed prices last October were about $13.99 a bag and that has now ballooned to $26 a bag.
“Bermuda pellets have gone from about $12 or $13 to $23,” he said. “How do we survive that?”
Warrell saud that amid the woes of inflation and the desperation of horse owners has emerged an anonymous donor who has been a friend of the Horse’n Around Rescue Foundation for years and who has made a more than generous offer to help the ranch, which is a non-profit.
But the offer depends on donations from the community, according to Warrell and Boice.
They said that between now and Aug. 15, the individual will match any donation made to Horse’n Around up to $10,000.
Boice thanked the passionate cadre of volunteers who feed the horses twice a day and help him and Warrell with training and administering medications.
“A little help from this one, and a little help from that one and we just kind of gradually keep chugging away and keep things going,” Boice said.