As the sun beat down on a little ranch in the Clovis outskirts this Saturday, March 28, a small group of people came together to share their passion for helping horses.
This small impassioned group was Red Cross Horse Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting horse owners in caring for their equestrian companions.
Headed by local business owner Ed Morones, Red Cross Horse Rescue was created in an effort to keep healthy horses from starving or being auctioned to slaughterhouses.
After having worked with different rescues, Morones began picking up on what they did for horses and their owners. And being from a family of social workers, Morones saw a much greater need for organizations that helped.
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“In my opinion, traditional horse rescue has failed,” said Morones. “It’s a noble, awesome cause and I get behind that, but bringing a bunch of horses from a slaughter house here - corralling them and feeding them is not really addressing the problem as a whole here in the valley.”
Morones said that with the drought and cost of living going up, that it is tough for people with high maintenance animals to stay afloat. That is why the organization provides food and assistance for horse owners who have trouble paying for the rising cost of resources.
“Some people would rather starve to death themselves, than have to let their horses go,” said Morones. “Those are the people we’re helping - the small farmers with cattle and livestock that are having financial problems and can’t apply for certain programs.”
Red Cross Horse Rescue consists of many different individuals donating whatever time and resources they can, whether it be a bale of hay or a great place to hold their next get-together.
This past barbecue/meeting was actually held on, Red Cross Horse Rescue affiliate, Laura Davis’ ranch. And all food and drinks were provided by members.
“We throw events like these to heighten awareness and let people learn about horses,” said Davis. “The horse is an American icon. And horse slaughter is a total betrayal to an animal that is amazing.”
Davis said that the organization just needs people who love and want to help horses; people like horse trainer and barrel racer Vanessa Salvatierra Norman.
Salvatierra Norman was at this particular event to show proper horse handling techniques and share her more than 20 years of experience dealing with horses.
“I want to show people how to be around horses,” said Salvatierra Norman. “They’re not really that dangerous of animals. They can be trained to be good animals.”
Salvatierra Norman demonstrated various horse handling practices in a small arena on the ranch. She handled the animal firmly, yet relaxed for the crowd and eventually ended her miniature lesson walking, trotting, and cantering the horse alongside the arena fence.
The biggest problem facing horse owners right now is not the fear of harm though, but rather the fear that they might not be able to take care of such a demanding creature said Salvatierra Norman.
“Within the past few years, the price of hay has gone up. I remember when it was $10 a bale, and it bounced up to $20,” said Salvatierra Norman. “People are afraid of the costs of taking care of horses. It’s expensive.”
Red Cross Horse Rescue aims to tackle these issues and provide as much assistance as humanly possible, with up to 90 days free horse feed, veterinary and farrier services.
Farrier and former PRCA Circuit rider Frank Jackson was at this particular meeting as proof of the organization’s goal; lending his expertise in horse hoof care for anybody who was interested. Jackson demonstrated hoof maintenance on an actual horse, all the while emphasizing how large of a responsibility it is to care for a horse.
“Educating people about hoof care is what I offer. I want to let people know about horses and what an undertaking it is to own a horse,” Jackson said. “When you get a horse, don’t just rush into it, try to get somebody that knows more than you and try to find a horse that’s trained good.”
All in all, the day was a well-rounded, educational experience for people looking to learn more about horses and the plight of Red Cross Horse Rescue.
“We want people to share and spread the word,” said Morones. “Red Cross Horse Rescue is looking to build bridges, not fences. Come to one of our events and see that there is a lot more to it than just cleaning stalls and petting horses.”
Morones admitted that it is going to take some time and a lot of work for the organization to get as strong as he would like it, but he has faith in every single person willing to lend a helping hand.