MISSOULA - It takes a lot to run an animal rescue, not just money and resources, but time as well. And that's where a local organization hopes you will come in.
Director Shari Montana says the River Pines Horse Sanctuary in Missoula has goals for their horses.
“The basic idea is to save the horses, rehab them, turn them into ambassadors so they meet and greet people and then serve the community however we can.”
She says horses have specific needs in order to thrive.
“Food and shelter, fresh water every day, vet and farrier care. And I just calculated it out, the cost of having a horse here just for maintenance and thriving is about $2,500 a year per horse.”
According to Shari, the most special of the horse’s needs is the need for friendship and a place to roam and play.
“They all live in a herd-based setting, they all have companionship, they all have as much space as I can give them.”
There is a whole variety of horses at River Pines Horse Sanctuary, ranging from Icelandic to miniature.
“We have 23 in the sanctuary,” Shari explained. “Twenty [is] our capacity but we have had some serious situations.”
The ranch is now at full capacity, so what happens when another horse needs help?
“Last Friday we just took in another, this Mustang who was on his way to the kill pens because he was in two places that couldn’t manage him,” Shari told MTN News. “And he was trying to escape. He was jumping out, getting in serious predicaments. He got hurt, injured his back legs.
Shari continued, “Cimmaron because he was in such an exceptional bad place, we took him anyway.”
And having more horses has impacts. “Mostly finances and labor,” Shari noted. “We are looking for volunteers. We prefer people to have horse experience. But if they don’t, we’ll train.”
The River Pines Horse Sanctuary runs horsemanship camps and events for those struggling with their mental health.
Shari believes that horsemanship skills translate into valuable life skills, “and part of that is being able to regulate yourself, do calming breathwork.”
Visit https://www.riverpinesfarm.org/ for more information on how to support the horses or to volunteer.