By Joan Reinbott
Before a whopping $12,000 Horse Welfare Program grant in late 2017, the Wildhorse Ranch Rescue staff in Gilbert, Ariz., used whatever Parelli products they could come by. 2018 was the turning point in being “positive, progressive, and natural,” per Pat Parelli.
Kim Meagher, founder and chairman, said: “While we’ve used the methods and held clinics here and there, we never had the funds to provide enough proper equipment and frequency of clinics for our volunteers and staff. With the Parelli Foundation grant, after 23 years, we are finally a 100% Parelli Natural Horsemanship Rescue! We removed all of the non-Parelli gear and outfitted our ranch with only Parelli equipment.”
Ashley Dudas, a Licensed 2-Star Parelli Professional, was hired to hold weekly clinics except during extreme heat. Incidentally, while playing with one of the ranch’s rescues, Romeo, she became smitten and adopted him. The ranch created a so-called “Romeo Rescue Tour” for the pair to promote Parelli methods to adopters and existing horse owners. This was a proactive effort to stop a trend—that is, 85% of first-time owners give up their horses within 5 years of acquiring them.
Beau, a wild stallion, and managers Lori Murphy and Andy Riffle learned how to use Parelli natural horsemanship to trailer load. Within a few hours, Beau was loading himself without a halter and lead rope. Meagher noted that this was necessary to take Beau to be gelded. “We brought in Stella, a wild mare, and Beau taught her how to load, too,” she added.
The grant also went toward a public address system with wireless (lavalier) microphones, Parelli kits and memberships, portable panels, a bareback pad, and shade devices for round pens. Four volunteers/staff have since joined the Savvy Club, and eight of them are taking private lessons with Dudas. Furthermore, Wildhorse has adopted out seven horses.
The Wildhorse community has responded with enthusiasm. “Our volunteers, adopters, and management team are thrilled to see the progress in not only their own skills but also in how the horses react to being around people who handle them with love, language, and leadership,” Meagher said. “Our donors love our updates and the progress we make turning unwanted horses into rock stars! So many people have told us that we’ve helped them live their dreams.”
The Meagher family’s dream of helping horses, as well as unwanted dogs and cats from Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon, is alive and well. “Our goal is to help more horses stay in their homes and help homeless horses find their forever homes. Thank you for giving us this wonderful opportunity and for helping us live our dream, too,” said Meagher.
For information about open houses, a vacation rental cottage on site, the “Water for Horses” project, and more, visit https://www.wildhorseranchrescue.com/