“Horses, like cats and dogs, were domesticated by humans, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure they are taken care of.”

Katherine Gregory, CEO of Colorado Horse Rescue.

Katherine Gregory, CEO of Colorado Horse Rescue. (Photo courtesy: Colorado Horse Rescue).

Katherine Gregory, CEO of Colorado Horse Rescue (CHR), says that riding her big, buckskin Quarter Horse helped her get through the tough years of middle and early high school. “I am so very grateful that now I can give back to horses who have given so much to the humans in their lives,” she says. 

For 37 years, CHR has been providing support for horses and horse owners with their professional team of equine specialists, trainers and matchmakers. CHR operates at a full capacity of 60 rescue horses and has a long waitlist of horses in need of help. On average, the organization places more than one horse in a new home each week. “CHR takes the time to match each horse with the right family and provides support to both horses and owners to ensure successful long-term placements,” says Gregory.

All horses will end up unrideable at some point in their lives, and Gregory envisions a world where these horses are just as valuable as their riding counterparts. “Horses, like cats and dogs, were domesticated by humans, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure they are taken care of,” she says. “Together with our community, we work to continuously reimagine what’s possible and create a reality where safe solutions exist for every horse.”

CHR also works with local jurisdictions to provide housing and rehabilitation for horses seized by Animal Control due to extreme neglect. “It is remarkable to watch these severely emaciated, emotionally shut-down animals become happy, thriving, and ready to find their new human partners,” says Gregory.

This summer, CHR hosted the inaugural PEAK (Performance Equine Adoption Kick-start) Training Challenge, in which professional trainers were partnered for 100 days with unstarted or lightly-handled members of the CHR herd to better prepare them for adoption. The event helped spread the word about CHR’s important work with a panel of respected equine professionals, an audience full of equine enthusiasts, and a $10,000 cash prize pool for the winning trainer. 

Jen Kayton started volunteering with CHR about 7 years ago after she read about the organization rescuing four mustangs after a large seizure. “Most people don’t realize how many horses can end up in dangerous and unsafe situations,” says Kayton. “When they transition between homes they can get unlucky and end up at auctions where they could be bought and sent to slaughter in Mexico and Canada. CHR works tirelessly to make sure as many horses as possible have a safe landing place.”

Kayton’s volunteer shifts usually include barn chores like mucking pens, putting out hay, and filling water troughs. She also volunteers with CHR’s Companion Connection program, which connects caregivers with horses for walks, grooming, and training activities. “These are usually horses that aren’t being ridden anymore and who might be adopted or fostered as a companion to another horse, or to a human who just wants to love on a good horse,” says Kayton. “I’m working with a horse named Scooby right now who is a total sweetheart.” 

Kayton says that, while most people associate animal rescue with sad circumstances, CHR is just the opposite. “I like to think of it as horse heaven,” she says. “These horses get the most phenomenal care from staff and equine professionals. They are surrounded by volunteers all week long who are there just because of how much they love horses. The horses are well-fed, have clean water, and get tons of love and attention. The rescue isn’t a sad place at all. It’s a place filled with purpose and love for horses.” 

On September 23, CHR will present The Mane Event at the Ranch, a farm-to-table benefit dinner. Learn more and book a tour of CHR on the website at chr.org/visit.  

By Emma Castleberry,
Longmont Magazine