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A gift of another chance

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

The rescue of 55 horses, mules and donkeys last November 29 from a property in Beaver Township, Fillmore County has provided the gift of another chance for the survivors. Five died or had to be put down soon after the rescue due to severe health issues, injury, and/or malnutrition.

Twenty-seven ended up at Truhaven Ranch, Winsted, Minnesota. About twenty are still there. They are untrained and as of yet unadoptable. Many are mules and ponies. Some are still wary of their caretakers having suffered abuse by a human at one time.

The first steps in training, halter training, and the feeding and care of over twenty additional equines wintering at the ranch has required a lot of extra work. Candy Phillips, operator and manager of Truhaven Ranch, noted some have been adopted, some are in foster care, and a few more could be adopted.

The real payback for all the extra work is “the look of contentment on the face of a well fed animal, it’s the greeting of those now sure they will get fed, it’s the curiosity and trust of the scared animal who now comes up to the human feeding them.” Malnourished animals have been gaining weight, putting a healthy covering over that bony skeleton, and their eyes have become brighter, as they have been cared for by Truhaven Ranch or Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue.

Extensive needed veterinary work including pregnancy checks, castrations, eye surgeries, Coggins testing, vaccinations, and deworming has been done.

Healthy adequate diets, veterinary care, and hoof care are just part of total rehabilitation. Many still need more rehabilitation and training. Some will receive training through the Trainers Challenge program. They need to redevelop trust. Trust does not come easily, especially for a few that had likely been beaten. For them, the journey will be a long one.

Charges Filed in Fillmore County District Court

Eighty year old Wilbur Schmoll has been charged with twenty-five counts of animal cruelty and one count of improper disposal of dead animals. He has been directed to own no domestic animals other than his two dogs.

Truhaven Ranch

Candy Phillips has been in tune with horses most of her life learning their behavior and psychology. She became disillusioned with training horses as a professional trainer when she realized many just wanted to make money selling the horses. Candy cared about where the horses would end up that were being sold. She says that she understands that it is a business for some people.

She quit training and went back to college in 2005 for an accounting degree. After a few years, she realized she could use her knowledge of equines “to make a difference” and returned to her work with horses with a new focus and commitment to equines.

In 2009 Candy took over a boarding operation at Winsted with plans to provide riding lessons and to again train horses. Along with several others at the stable the idea of Truhaven Ranch was developed and became a reality. It was opened as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 2010 to rescue equines and at risk youth. Currently, there are about 40 unwanted equines at the ranch, plus 10 of her family’s own equines.

Primary to the ranch mission is the education of would be horse owners on responsible equine ownership and breeding. Candy wants people to understand the commitment of time and money involved with the care and feeding of the animal. She wants to make the world a better place for horses and provide a different perspective of the horse industry, getting people to know the horse. Candy clearly believes those that adopt horses from the ranch should realize that this is a commitment for the life of that animal. The ranch has a working relationship with Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue.

The growth of the ranch has been an amazing journey according to Candy. “It has taken on a life of its own.” The program to help at risk and disadvantaged youth (11 to 17) has been growing through word of mouth. The mission statement for Truhaven reads, “committed to educating equines and humans, four hooves and two heels at a time.”

The program is geared toward a positive experience for both the at risk youth and the rescued equine. Youth develop empathy, learn patience, responsibility, and commitment while building confidence and self esteem. The equine can also gain confidence and trust, which are positive steps toward a successful adoption.

Truhaven sponsors “Day at the Ranch” days for people in group homes and it offers one on one equine interaction sessions. Equine classes, clinics and riding lessons are offered.

Candy explained that if an adopted horse doesn’t work out, they have been brought back. She recounts a story of a girl who outgrew the pony she adopted after a couple of years. The pony was returned to the ranch and the young lady adopted a horse more suited to her current age. The pony was then adopted once again by another child.

In speaking with Candy about her life journey with horses I would suspect she too has received the gift of fulfillment through her work with at risk youths and equines.

Donations are the ranch’s primary source of funding. Any funds from paid-for services provided by the ranch are used to help fund the rescue program. Anyone interested in donating or getting more information can go to the ranch website http://truhavenranch.org/ You can help through membership, donations, sponsorship of an animal, or volunteering.

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