Lucky horses without homes find themselves at the Lucky Horse Rescue corral in Dayton, waiting to be adopted.
Unlucky horses may find themselves at a slaughterhouse.
Shirley Allen, program manager for Least Resistance Training Concepts, a nonprofit wild-horse-mentoring program, said there are 10 horses up for adoption now that Buddy, a bay gelding, has found a home in Silver Springs.
"Our main goal is to keep them out of the slaughter plants and find them the best and most loving homes we can," she said. "We've saved some from the Fallon stockyard that were on their way to Canada for slaughter."
Several of those Fallon horses were pregnant, Allen said. One, Gracie, a buckskin mare currently available for adoption, foaled only two weeks after being rescued. Her colt has been adopted.
Allen said the horses from Fallon are often former ranch horses that are no longer able to do ranch work.
"It's a business to those folks, and I'm not being judgmental, but we don't think that way," she said. "They treat them like an old pair of shoes; when they don't need them anymore, they discard them. But the horses have souls and hearts and they can love. We think they should be able to live out their days."
All of the horses available for adoption are females save one: a black bay gelding named Hershey. The other gelding, Buddy, recently found a home in Silver Springs.
The herd includes sorrels, light and dark bays and a buckskin. One horse, Li'l Nikki, is about 7 or 8 months old and still with her mother, Mommy Mare.
"I want to keep her with the mother another three months," Allen said.
Li'L Nikki was born with deformed front legs, and Allen said she will probably never be able to carry a rider, except possibly a child, though she's not without use. Horses are herd animals and are better off if they are not alone.
"She would make a good companion horse," Allen said. "She runs and plays just great, but she knows she's different."
Horses can be at the corral for any amount of time, from a few days to more than a year, and young horses take a lot more work.
"We take in orphan foals," Allen said. "We raise them by hand. I usually raise them in the master bath and bedroom until they are old enough. They usually have to be fed every two hours when they first come home."
Allen screens prospective horse owners and is up front with them about what they can expect.
"We give them the good points, the bad points, everything that they will need to take care of a horse," she said. "There's the time constraint. You have to put a lot of time and a lot of love into them. They have to learn to trust you.
Allen added she will help the new owners. If things go wrong, she will take the horse back and try to find another home for it.
The Lucky Horse Rescue program is funded through donations and grants, but the adoption fees, which range from $150 for an ungentled horse, $250 for a halter-broke animal or $500 for a saddle-broke horse.
Allen said horses from Fallon cost more because the organization has to match prices paid by the slaughterhouses in order to rescue the animals.
"If we get horses from Fallon, it's anywhere from $500 to $800 because we have to pay meat prices," she said, adding that the Fallon horses are usually trained and somewhat larger than the wild horses available for adoption.
Another source of help has been her neighbors in the Dayton Valley Ranches.
"We've got a wonderful network of people in our neighborhood," she said. "They chip in and help, and a lot of our neighbors have adopted from us."
She said Nevada horses are in demand outside of the state.
"Texas has people on waiting lists for Nevada mustangs," she said. "I'm trying to find the money and movers to get some down to Texas."
-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.