From: Cara Eastwood, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Published August 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Northern Colorado Horse Dealer Uses Profits to Rescue Abused Horses, Donkeys

WELLINGTON, Colo. — Terry Jester is in the business of both saving -- and selling -- horses.

At her stables, called Rocky Mountain Rawhide, the trainer deals in plenty of healthy, talented horses, but much of the profits from these sales are earmarked for a specific purpose.

"We buy horses that are in good shape and that helps fund the rescue horses," she said.

On average, Jester keeps about 20 horses at her facility north of Wellington, Colo.

"There are only so many that we can take, usually 30 percent are rescues and 70 percent are purchased from performance auctions or individuals," she said.

When she found Knight, the neglected Percheron draft horse that now lives in Cheyenne, Jester saw something special in him despite his terrible physical condition.

"But Knight was not in nearly as bad shape as the little donkey that we bought out of the same group of horses that day," she said. "He had rope burns on his ankles that went all the way to the bone and more rope burns on the back of his neck. He'd been roped on again and again."

When she runs across mules, donkeys and horses that have been abused the former animal welfare officer does her best to save them from future abuse or from the slaughterhouse.

"If they're in need and we think we can help them, we try to buy them," she said. "It's not that I have much against slaughterhouses. What I have a problem with is the way they get them there. In cattle trucks and cramped trailers, the animals are dying in the heat, and they get trampled or they're getting kicked by other animals. It's a horrible trip -- it's torture."

If Jester purchases an animal and finds out that it isn't suitable for rehabilitation or even just to be a "pasture pal," for another horse, she said she's not afraid to put the animal down.

"It's better than taking it back to the auction if it's too far gone and is in pain, or if it's crazy," she said. "I also firmly believe that with those horses, their bodies are dead and their spirits are running free."

Jester's rehabilitation work relies on the dedication of about 35 active volunteers and on financial sponsors who contribute money to help purchase and care for a particular animal. Although she has sponsors from all over the U.S., only one comes from Wyoming, Jester said.

Volunteer work ranges from "carrot givers," who help teach abused horses that people can be friendly by passing them treats in the pasture, to trainers who help solve some of the bad habits the horses might have developed over the years.

Through the Web site, Jester keeps sponsors abreast of the progress made with each horse, donkey or mule.

She strives to be honest with those interested in buying the rehabilitated horses and never sells them to beginner riders.

Her goal, Jester says, is to match the right person with the right horse.

Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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