Today is National Horse Protection Day, celebrated since 2005. The majestic horse has long been considered a close companion to humans--an integral part of human civilzation over the past 5,000 years, an icon of the American spirit, and a beloved companion to animal lovers around the world. Unfortunately, horses are also subjected to cruel treatment and neglect-- from the rounding up of wild horses, to equestrian sports that often do not prioritize the horses' well-being, to the slaughtering of horses as a food source. Because of the resources and expense implicit in providing a horse with a healthy home, even beloved companions are at risk of suffering in poor conditions.
Located on Rainbow Meadows Ranch near Junction City, Kansas, Rainbow Meadows Equine Rescue and Retirement, Inc. is dedicated to providing a safe haven for abused, neglected, abandoned and slaughter-bound horses. It was established in 2005, and since its inception, it has been an active player in the rescue of hundreds of horses.
Animal Defense Partnership has been honored to serve Rainbow Meadows as our client. On this Horse Protection Day, we want to share more with you from Rainbow Meadows' co-founder Karen Everhart MEd. Read more about the work and history of Rainbow Meadows here.
You share that you have been a horse lover from birth. What is your earliest memory of falling in love with a horse?
My earliest memory is of going out into my grandparents pastures to catch the 2 ranch horses. Brownie and Dumplin weren’t too keen on being caught but with the right encouragement they could be enticed into a catch pen. Then we would bridle them and ride bareback amongst the cedar trees. The horses worked hard to dump my cousin and I off into the trees and they succeeded quite often. I clearly remember the exhilaration of those rides and the great fun.
Will you share with us one of your favorite memories of Rainbow?
Rainbow, the namesake of Rainbow Meadows was a very headstrong mare. She was not known for her whoa; only her go. I remember being on a trail ride on a large Girl Scout ranch. At lunch some of the riders decided to hobble their horses rather than tie them. Their horses decided to take off in a gallop despite being hobbled. Rainbow and I, along with another horse/rider team decided to go after them. Rainbow was up for the challenge even though she was well into her twenties. We caught our target in short order and returned it to its rider. I always felt safe on that beautiful mare.
How do you feel your long professional career in health care and fitness contributed to your current work co-founding and leading Rainbow Meadows?
As the director of a number of health care start ups I became proficient in running the business aspects of operations. Being able to see the big picture and how the various pieces of an organization influence each other is critical in operational success. My ability to successfully apply good business tools to Rainbow Meadows has allowed my passion to help horses remain viable for 17 years.
Since its founding in 2005, how many horses has Rainbow Meadows rescued and adopted out, and how many horses have called Rainbow Meadows their forever retirement home?
We have rescued over 600 horses and have been directly involved in placement of horses for law enforcement (seizures) of another 300. In addition, we have indirectly been involved in countless other rehoming situations where the horse did not physically come to our facility.
Our retirement program is limited to two or three horses at any given time. Fortunately those horses have such a positive living situation that they outlive the normal lifespan. We currently have one which came to us at 28 years of age. He is now 41 and doing amazing. Another lived to age 37 before passing in his sleep.
What is the most challenging part of managing all the pieces of an equine rescue and retirement organization?
The most challenging piece is not having any time off. Mine is a 24x7x365 volunteer position. No vacations. No holidays. It’s tough. And I’m tired!
What is the best way fellow horse lovers can support the work of Rainbow Meadows?
Rainbow Meadows would be best supported by fellow horse owners making a lifetime commitment to their horse(s). My dream would be that horse rescues would no longer be needed. I wish that individuals would stop using horses as a commodity and view them as the intelligent, emotive creatures that they are so deserving of proper care and safety.
Of course, since the above likely won’t become a reality, we can always use financial support to help us care for the discarded, the exploited and the ignored.
[Visit the Rainbow Meadows website here to learn more or make a contribution.]