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EQUINE EXPERTS NEED HELD

By Bob Silbernagel

This is from The Daily Sentinel's "Horseplay" page today.

After End of the Trail Horse Resuce of Olathe announced last month it was forming the Western Slope Hay Bank to help struggling horse owners feed their animals, the response was dramatic — especially from Mesa County.“I’d say 75 percent of all the people we’ve given hay to have come from Mesa County,” said Kathy Hamm, executive director of the Olathe-based nonprofit. “In the last month (since news of the hay bank was published in The Daily Sentinel) we’ve sent to Mesa County about 3,000 bales of hay.”

The need locally isn’t limited to hay. Over the past year, Hamm said, her organization has taken in or placed in foster homes about 20 head of horses from Mesa County.

“We’ve turned away 40 or 50 more because of a lack of funds, lack of foster homes or lack of hay,” she added.

End of the Trail Horse Rescue, which grew out of Hamm’s other organization, Dream Catcher Therapy Center, has operated for a half-dozen years in Montrose County. It takes in unwanted horses and rescues neglected horses primarily from Montrose and Delta counties. It has also begun working in the Ouray-Ridgway area.

But the biggest boom in equine need of late has been in Mesa County. That’s why Hamm’s group has been working with a trio of local veterinarians to establish a Mesa County chapter of End of the Trail Horse Rescue.

The veterinarians are Dr. Bob Bessert of Desert Springs Veterinary Clinic in Fruita, Dr. Braden Shafer of Shafer Equine Services and Dr. Brian Wiseman of Amigo Animal Clinic. They are involved with the American Association of Equine Practicioners, which has been dealing with the issue of unwanted horses nationwide, Shafer said.

Even though a number of Mesa County residents have expressed a desire to help with the Mesa County chapter, Hamm said it’s been slow going to get it fully functional.

“We’re trying to get more people who are go-getters and want to be involved,” she said. “We need people to be engaged. We need land. We need foster homes. We need hay.”

One reason for the greater demand is the state of the economy. But education is an equally big problem, Hamm said, a sentiment that was echoed by Shafer.

Many people move to a few acres in the country and think it would be great to have a couple of horses, they said. But they don’t understand the amount of care and money that horses require.

“People know dogs and cats live 10 to 15 years,” Shafer said. “They don’t understand horses can live 30 years.”

He also noted how many new horse owners aren’t aware of proper horse care.

“I visited with one gentleman after his neighbors called concerned about the condition of his horses,” Shafer said. “He had good hay, but he hadn’t dewormed his horses and he didn’t believe in trimming their feet.”

As most horse owners know, frequent deworming and regular hoof care are critical to a horse’s health, and to preventing serious and costly medical problems.

Hamm said her group has received donations to provide more education service for horse owners.

Also, Dream Catcher Therapy Center plans to begin offering weekly mental health equine therapy sessions at a facility on Orchard Mesa.

Additionally, the Mesa County chapter of End of the Trail Horse Rescue will soon begin holding regularly scheduled meetings in the evening in Grand Junction, and hopes to attract more members.

The organization and local veterinarians will keep trying to recruit volunteeers and foster horse caregivers to help meet the needs of unwanted and neglected horses and to help educate horse owners in Mesa County.

If you are interested in helping, contact Kathy Hamm at 970-323-5400. Email her at khamm@dctc.org. Visit the group’s website at http://www.dctc.org.

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