Walkin N Circles Ranch, just off N.M. 344 is competing for grant funds by adopting out horses housed at the rescue.

Board member Mary Ann Shinnick said the rescue will participate in a competition sponsored by the ASPCA that will be held at the Cyclone Arena in Stanley on May 18 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Charlyn Hudson, another board member, explained the ASPCA is holding a Help a Horse Home Challenge: “We have to be over what we did last year,” she said, explaining that last year the ranch adopted out seven horses; it must exceed that this year in order to have a chance to be awarded grant money.

Ashley Snider and Claire. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

Grant awards include the “Hoofy,” which is three separate awards of $5,000 for best use of social media, and “the big awards are up to $150,000 that they will disperse among the top four rescues,” Hudson said.

“We upped the ante with 20 horses in the competition,” she said, including horses that are young and trained, some that are trained and not ridable, “but have wonderful personalities and are gentle and would make a great pasture pal.”

Over 170 rescues will participate across the nation, Hudson said.

“It’s an adopt-a-thon. Admission is free,” Shinnick said, adding that volunteers will have their horses there. There will be an obstacle course for the horses to master and lunging, or running on a line, and other unmounted skills volunteers and the horses will demonstrate.

Hudson said Walkin N Circles is “in a pickle this year because the tax laws have changed. It appears that there’s not a benefit for people to donate. We get no money from the government, it’s all private donations.”

Walkin N Circles also has a thrift store just east of Smith’s in Edgewood that provides a third of the income for the rescue, according to Hudson.

With an annual budget of between $20,000 and $25,000, the ranch gets some funding from adoption fees that can range between $400 and $1,500, Hudson said. They are also planning a chile cook-off for this fall, she said.

Marion Ammerman works in the office.

She talked about a pregnant mare who came to the ranch by way of the Livestock Board last Friday, giving birth on Sunday.

Ammerman said there are 53 rescue horses at the ranch. Many are available for adoption, she said. The ranch also boards about 10 horses. She said they receive many of their rescues from the Livestock Board, who find horses abandoned.

She explained that when a horse comes to the ranch, it is quarantined for 10 days for evaluation and to check for medical issues like equine encephalitis. They try to get to know each horse before introducing them to other horses.

Horses in the barn included Mimi, a very friendly yearling who looked for attention and mugged for the camera.

Ammerman introduced me to Ashley Snider, the resident caretaker at the ranch. “It’s a lifestyle, it’s not a job,” Snider joked. Snider was holding Claire, a mare awaiting a visit from the veterinarian.

Shinnick said about 25 percent of their horses, called surrenders, come from people who simply can no longer take care of a horse. “We can’t take all the horses that are offered to us,” Shinnick said. “The whole state has more horses than it can take care of.”

Mimi. Photo by Thomas Campbell.

She said there are 12 livestock rescues in New Mexico licensed by the Livestock Board, and only three or four take horses.

Many of their horses come from the Livestock Board who pick up horses after, “People just turn their horses out. Sometimes they leave them by the side of the road, sometimes they’ll appear on someone else’s property, which is where that mother came from,” Shinnick said, adding, “They’re called estray horses.”

She said sometimes an owner will come forward to claim a horse but if not, the rescues discuss who can take a horse. A rule called “first right of refusal” allows the rescues to take a horse before it is sold to the public where purchase of horses is often for slaughter, Shinnick said.

Hudson, talking about wild horses, said, “We are in conversation with the Placitas horses. They’ve been moved to another rescue called the Mustang Camp which is between Grants and Gallup and we may take a couple stallions that will need to be gelded.”

She said the Livestock Board inspects Walkin N Circles every year “to see that we’re meeting safety requirements and humane requirements for the horses.”

“Here, we want to get them trained and rehabilitated,” Shinnick said. Some horses cannot be ridden, and many are very old. A trainer evaluates each horse.

She explained that when someone is interested in adopting a horse, they are given a tour and try to match a horse with the person. Next is a home visit. They need covered hay, a clean environment, accessible water, no barbed wire fencing, access to a shelter and good food.

The adopter then signs a contract with the rescue where they become co-owners for a year during which the rescue does periodic checks. After a year, the horse has a new, permanent home.

To find out more about horse rescue, the May 18 event, or Walkin N Circles Ranch, call 505-286-0779 or visit wncr.org.