Rescuing abused and neglected or abandoned horses is more than just a labor of love, it is a time consuming, financial drain – that is worth every single moment, said Ginger Grimes, ranch founder and president.
“I love them,” she said. “I really do.
“Each and every one of them,” she added while pointing out and individually naming each of the 10-or-so horses that could be seen from the side of the barn.
The work that Grimes does with the 42 rescues she currently cares for every day starts at nearly 5 a.m. most days she said, and that is even when it’s below zero outside and the sun has yet to rise.
“It was minus 31 a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “I am outside by around 5:30, and then I am pretty much out here all day.”
Between the ton of feed she puts out every day, making sure the horses have adequate water, mucking out the stalls, running the horses, and taking care of their hygiene and medical needs, Grimes said there isn’t very much time for breaks.
Though volunteers are not many volunteers, Grimes said the people who occasionally help with the hard physical labor are indispensable, and she is always happy when members from the community show an interest in the ranch.
Along the way, Grimes said there have been a dedicated few who have stuck by her side through thick and thin to help keep the ranch afloat during troubled times, and create a firm foundation that will support the plans they’ve built for the ranch’s future.
According to their website dustdevilranch.org the ranches mission is to rehabilitate horses through complete veterinary and farrier care in order to adopt them out to families who will love and enjoy them. Horses that are too old, or sick to adopt out stay on the ranch and receive the proper care to live out their days happily in a “relaxed environment”.
Grimes said that she started the equestrian rescue in June 2012 after Iron County Deputy Thomas Byrd brought her 18 neglected horses that were removed from a previously unsuccessful rescue situation.
Byrd said that Grimes had been calling the department and offering to help for some time, and he knew how dedicated she would be if he placed the withering team in her care.
He said she had plenty of room to house them, and a large donation of hay from Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah to help support their nutritional needs. He said he was more than confident that Grimes was prepared to take on such a large task.
“The amount of support that she received from Best Friends from the beginning was key,” he said. “If she didn’t have the facility to house the horses that was approved by me, and if she didn’t have the means to support them with their nutrition, there would have been no reason to place them there, but she made it work, and I have no regrets.”
The ranch has been responsible for numerous rescues since then Grimes said, and the mountain of letters she shared from grateful patrons boasted the hard work and dedication of DDRSFH. The pile included letters grateful responses from individuals the ranch has worked with personally, and agencies like the Department of Agriculture and Food, BLM, Iron County Sheriff’s Department and Mountain View Animal Clinic.
Iron County homeowner Cindy Kinney said that when two severely malnourished horses were abandoned on her property, Animal Control referred her to DDRSFH.
“Talk about some very caring horse people,” she said. “As soon as they found out our needs, and what had happened, they were up to our place with horse trailer behind.
“Just the way she was with the horses you knew – not only she cared about them – but you were doing the best thing for them,” she added.
Kinney said that Grimes let the family say goodbye to the horses before taking them to the ranch, and invited them to visit the horses any time they wanted. She said her experiences have led her to recommend that anyone who knows of a horse treated unfairly should contact DDRSFH right away.
From the beginning, Grimes said her greatest struggle has been finding sources of funding to help pay for the costs of food, veterinary care, and the additional needs that come along with running a rescue of this nature, like insurance.
She said she has often paid directly out-of-pocket for needed expenses, but her once soft cushion of retirement funds is running low, and she hopes the new tax-exempt status will help to motivate others to support her efforts at the ranch.
Christina Adams, DDRSFH secretary, said the organization is in need of volunteers who know their way around fundraising and grant writing. She said they are also in need of volunteers who can help with public and media relations, as well as web building.
More information about the ranch is available at Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary For Horses on facebook, and dustdevilranch.org.