When we saw Annie, we knew Drifter’s had to have her. Our friend at Centennial Livestock Auction posted her picture on Facebook before the bidding started with the description, “Dude ranch mare. Knobby knees but I see no lameness. Good kids horse. Late teens to early twenties.”
A little later, she added more information that she was given by one of the ranch’s trainers: "She is very gentle and probably needs her knees injected and she would be fine. She is great in the arena and a great little trail horse. I understand why they shipped her- it's not fair to make her keep climbing our terrain. We used her for older ladies who were timid and she always took care of them."
This brief description saved Annie’s life. She sounded like an amazing horse that we could easily find a home for. We bid on her and won her for $702. The only other bidder that day was the horse trader, also known as “the kill buyer” in our circles.
When Annie arrived at DHOH, we were all instantly smitten. She was well mannered, an easy keeper, and sweet as pie. She never put a foot wrong. Within a week of us posting her for adoption, she was off to her new home. Annie will spend the rest of her days being pampered and loved on by a great family with two young children. The kids adore her, and their parents know how special it is to have a horse as willing and kind as Annie. She is a saint in horse clothes.
Horses like Annie are why Drifter’s Hearts of Hope exists. Generally, most folks are unaware of how horses end up in the slaughter pipeline. Horse traders, or kill buyers, have a quota to fill and they will look for inexpensive horses to fill their order. They fill their quota at livestock auctions like Centennial Livestock, or Calhan. Horses sell by the pound, the same as cattle. Every horse will have at least one bidder, the kill buyer. He will bid on every horse that runs through the auction. If a rescue or private bidder doesn’t outbid him and win the horse, then the horse will go to the kill buyer’s feedlot and be transported to slaughter. Only around 15% of horses at auction are won by private buyers and rescues.
C Lazy U decided to take the auction out of the equation and, in the summer of 2017, started sending Drifter’s Hearts of Hope the horses from their herd that were no longer good fits for their program. These horses were various ages, some older, some just into their teens, but all could not continue as working dude ranch horses. They could still be amazing pleasure horses, and we found each horse had amazing qualities that potential adoptees were enamored by. We found all of these horses homes within weeks of their arrival to our rescue.
We decided to call our program "The Annie Project" in honor of Annie. We have now expanded our program to the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association and have already enrolled several more dude and guest ranches and we are working on expanding our reach throughout the state, neighboring states, and one day, the nation!