Silence claims the road leading toward Colorado Horse Rescue—the quiet dehydrated further by a faint chill. Still, the ranch in southwest Longmont is serene. A blanket of snow covers their 50 acres of bucolic pasture, enough for dried grass to protrude like patchy beard stubble. It’s the end of February, and the nonprofit organization has recently taken on three horses that were, like the others here, unwanted or neglected. That puts the total amount of on-site horses at 48; the fact CHR is almost to capacity is an indication of the economic state of the country.
“I hope the snow helps,” says CHR executive director Judy Smetana. “But the drought has been a horrible thing.” Last year the number of inquiries from people surrendering their horse(s) grew from about 180 to more than 500 as hay prices practically doubled. Smetana, however, is undaunted. CHR’s job, as she says, is to rescue, rehabilitate and adopt horses to forever homes. By the end of 2013, she hopes they’ll be able to help 100 horses.
It began in 1986 after Sharon Jackson and Jill Pratt were called upon to help after several horses died in an accident. They rescued the rest and founded CHR. Since then sponsors and volunteers have helped the state’s horse rescues. Looking at the photos in CHR’s book Rescued, you’d understand why. In it are depictions of horses with uncut hooves from lack of a recurring farrier, visible ribs from malnourishment, and bulbous clumps of matted hair dangling from the belly.
Most importantly, though, are the photos of recovery. “Rescues are a place of hope, not tragedy,” Smetana says. For all of CHR’s endearing work, they’ve done just that; proving that there, in the awesome silence, exists a land of promise and vengeance in a life lived well.