How To Help
Caring for rescued horses is expensive. The Lawrence Humane Society is seeking donations to help cover the mounting costs. If you are interested in making a contribution, earmark donations as Help for Horses and send to the Lawrence Humane Society, 1805 E. 19th St., Lawrence, KS 66046. For more information, go to lawrencehumane.org.
When a 22-year-old buckskin mare arrived at Stepping Stone Ranch in September, there wasn’t much hope for her survival.
Nugget was malnourished and plagued with arthritis. She was one of three horses the Lawrence Humane Society had rescued from a local owner because of neglect.
It hurt to watch Nugget walk, so much so that the ranch owners, a veterinarian and the humane society were weighing the option of putting the horse down. But then an unbelievable discovery was made.
The old mare was pregnant and far enough along that a delivery was feasible.
Today, a 3-week-old filly, independent and adorable, happily gallops next to her mother at the ranch.
“She is a special case,” Stepping Stone Ranch owner Vera Gannaway said. “We need to find someone to adopt her.”
Over the past several months, the Lawrence Humane Society has rescued eight horses or ponies.
Horses are expensive to keep, said Kayse Aschenbrenner, the director of animal welfare at the humane society. So, when owners come upon rough economic times, it becomes difficult to cover vet bills, food and boarding fees. And, people have more difficulty selling horses than they do during a good economy.
“In a lot of cases, people with very good intentions have fallen on hard times. I don’t have any doubt that they truly care for the animals, but I realize they aren’t able to provide the care for the animals that they need,” Aschenbrenner said.
Most of the horses have gone to Vera and Steve Gannaway’s Stepping Stone Ranch in Baldwin City. The couple, who have 16 horses for riding lessons and sale, aren’t looking to expand their herd. Instead, they hope that others who have the land, money and expertise will adopt them.
“Usually we do one or two at a time; there is a lot of huge expense involved for both us and the humane society,” Vera Gannaway said.
The first group of horses was rescued in September. An owner had been able to sell several horses, but four or five remained. The entire group was housed together. Among the herd was a stallion, who was eating the bulk of the food and impregnated the old mare.
Along with the mare came a buckskin gelding named Jack and a chestnut pony named Pebbles. Among the worst-off was Jack.
“When he came in, it just broke our heart to see him, a yearling, so thin. His mane and tail had to be cut off because there were so many burrs on it,” Gannaway said.
Earlier this month, another round of horses was in need of rescue. This time two ponies came to the Stepping Stone Ranch. Two adult Arabian horses and a filly went to another Kansas rescue ranch.
Gannaway fears that more horses from the same owner could be in need of new homes.
“I think with the way the economy is more people are going to start asking for help,” she said.
Many of the horses had never worn a halter, didn’t know how to lead, didn’t have vaccination shots and badly needed to be shod.
Of the recent arrivals at Stepping Stone Ranch, only Pebbles has been adopted. Nursing the horses back to health and then watching them go on to good homes can be bittersweet.
“It’s real expensive, but it’s real rewarding,” Gannaway said.