A Home Where Horses Can Be Horses
Story and photo by Carolyn Stark
Just three miles north of the Mexican border, in Hereford, Arizona, you will find the Single Star Ranch. Named by a previous owner, who was a retired one-star general, the ranch now serves as the home for the Horse’n Around Rescue. Theresa Warrell and Steve Boice along with a group of over thirty volunteers keep the ranch running smoothly. Some volunteers come weekly, some monthly, but they are all considered part of the Horse’n Around Ranch family.
Unlike many volunteer organizations, Theresa and Steve believe that everyone should be involved with the horses. No one should be doing just the clean-up work. Beginners are paired up with more experienced horses, and experienced volunteers take care of the beginner horses. Everything is very hands on. From feeding, grooming, riding, to just giving the horses love.
Areas near the ranch are given to older horses and those in need of special care. There are training areas along with barns, tack rooms, and quick growing fodder boxes that are climate controlled. The fodder that grows in these boxes produces a nutrient dense food in as little as 6 days. They also use brew grain, provided to them by local breweries. The combination of these along with pellets and senior feed are good for the older horses or those with teeth problems.
There are other animals on the ranch as well: dogs resting in the shade of a truck, cats guarding the grain from mice, and two sheep ready for a shearing. In a nearby pasture are a pair of mothers, their babies, and one very pregnant mare. Steve is gently teaching them to accept human touch, and learning their manners such as respecting his space and not nipping. Baby Snip is even getting so calm with Steve that we were graced with several baby horsey smiles.
There are cattle that are rotated through four different fields nearby to prevent overgrazing. There is also one large field that is left fallow for back up land management. This area was hard hit by the 2011 Monument fire. As the rains came, with nothing to hold the soil in place, the water swept down the mountain washing out water supplies, pipes, and fences. Using heavy equipment purchased by friends for the ranch, Steve created berms to stop further erosion.
Up toward Thompson Peak is leased land where the horses run free. Not only is the sight of horses in their natural environment exciting, but the view of the surrounding area is stunning. The day I was there Theresa’s two nieces went with us. The herd was not bothered by us, the truck we rode up in, or the girls going to visit their favorites. The belief of Horse’n Around Ranch is that horses should not be left in corrals where their muscles and joints cannot develop; that horses should be horses. While out in the upper pasture they walk over varied terrain with grass, rocks, hills and gullies. This helps them to become stable on their feet. They forage for food with supplemental hay bales being brought up daily. All the horses on the ranch, and in the pastures, are given every day human care so any problems can be taken care of quickly. The horses on the ranch do not have shoes put on. Instead a Velcro boot can be used if needed. This allows the horse to have a natural hoof.
Horses ready for training and possible adoption are brought from the upper pasture down to the ranch. Steve and Theresa are very gentle with the horses and it takes a long time and handling by many different people to know when the horse is ready for a new home.
Adopters are personally chosen for specific horses. They must go through a 10-week training course no matter how experienced they are. In this way Theresa and Steve can be sure that the horse and the rider are a perfect match. Before they can take their horse home, a home check is also required. The new owner must sign a no breeding clause, and if for any reason the owner can no longer take care of the horse it must be returned to the ranch. Without any one of these things being signed in the contract, the horse will not be adopted out. Steve and Theresa make sure all the animals are ready for their new home.
Along with horses that are trained to ride, there are many horses that cannot be ridden because of age or medical problems. They are often overlooked, but can still make great companions for people who do not want to ride, or as barn buddies for other animals.
A big portion of Theresa and Steve’s time is spent on fundraising. They sponsor events on the ranch, or out at other locations. They apply for grants, which are not as numerous, but bring in a few thousand dollars at a time. The local community helps by donating feed, corral sections, and heavy equipment. Horse’n Around Rescue Ranch and Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and any donation of time or money is greatly appreciated. If you would like to find out how you can help this wonderful rescue, go to www.horsenaroundrescue.org or call (520) 266-0236.