Despite heartfelt love for horses situations do arise when proper care cannot be given.
Personal and family needs must take priority over requirements of horse ownership.
What to do when that so cherished animal becomes an often unanswerable burden?
Rainbow Meadows Equine Rescue & Retirement Inc. is doing their part to solve such dilemmas and help other homeless horses.
New facilities, relocated home of Rainbow Meadows, south of Geary County Lake have passersby taking a second admiring look.
“Horses are an important gift from God,” cofounder Karen Everhart declared. “Our mission is to provide safe refuge for these incredible animals.”
Originated near Sedan in Chautauqua County of southeast Kansas 15 years ago, the move to Junction City was completed last month.
Everhart’s fervor for the admirable successful effort created a heartfelt decision to relocate for expanded horse services and people served.
“We were fortunate to acquire the quarter section of Flint Hills near Fort Riley and Kansas State University,” Everhart stated. “This is also an ideal location for a selfish reason: so we can be near our daughter and family.”
Formerly from Wichita, Everhart and husband David developed Rainbow Meadows upon retirement from health care and the Defense Department, respectively.
“I owned and enjoyed horses,” Everhart said. “We started the rescue after rehabilitating an incapacitated pony from a person who could no longer care for it.
“It became apparent there was an expanding need for rescuing and rehabilitating horses,” she verified. “We formed the 501(c) (3) nonprofit Rainbow Meadows and established it in the rural Chautauqua community in 2005. “
Nearly 350 horses have been rescued since that beginning: 30-45 head annually.
“More than 300 have been adopted by new owners who met stringent requirements,” Everhart said.
Unwanted horses come from “lots of places,” she noted. “A number of horses are ‘surrendered’ by owners who are unable to provide proper care. They sure don’t want their horse going to slaughter.”
Horses sometimes come through law enforcement seizures. “The horses are frequently under nourished and may even be abused,” Everhart explained.
“Horses in some situations are ‘dumped’ by their owners and we’re called by local authorities to assist in their containment. We have always stepped up for those horses” she continued.
Rehabilitation efforts include proper nutrition, health care and training
“We get horses that are completely unmanageable,” Everhart said. “They haven’t ever been handled, and must be trained to lead and get used to being around people.”
Some horses get additional handling being broke to saddle for riding.
“Our objective for rescued and rehabilitated horses is to adopt them to qualified owners,” Everhart said. “Steep hurdles must be met before somebody adopts a horse from us.
“Prospective owners must follow certain guidelines and fill out annual reports on each horse,” she continued.
“Contact is maintained with all adopters,” Everhart said. “We provide a ‘safety net’ for the horse to return if the adopter cannot uphold their commitment to the horse.”
Rainbow Meadows’ dedicated efforts of rescue and rehabilitation have been recognized nationwide. They’ve received certification from the Global Federal of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and designation as a “Guardian” through the Equus Foundation.
“We are very committed to the welfare of horses, and helping others through their interaction with horses” Everhart stated emphatically.
To adopt a horse, the new owners must pay a low fee. “It only covers the health care and administrative costs,” Everhart said.
All calibers of horses have been residents at Rainbow Meadows including horses once selling for more than $100,000. “It is our responsibility to make sure all horses entering our gates have safe refuge,” Everhart repeated.
“Horses promote emotional and physical wellbeing,” she said. “With our location near Fort Riley, we hope to work with military personnel both active duty and retired.”
Special efforts are also to be directed toward teenagers in foster care. “This is a global issue where horses can actually provide help,” Everhart said.
“Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is effective in helping all individuals work through challenging emotional experiences,” Everhart said. ”Rainbow Meadows anticipates offering EAP programs as early as the spring of 2021.”
Although Rainbow Meadows has an equine feed dealership, it is almost entirely supported by donations. “The non-profit stipulations must be followed so this is definitely not a money making enterprise,” Everhart emphasized.
Support comes from generous donors through the years. “We appreciate all of the assistance we have, but there are no corporate sponsors,” Everhart clarified. “Seeking adequate funding from the public to keep Rainbow Meadows in operation is an ongoing process.”
The couple did most of the work personally for 15 years. “We’re now building a strong volunteer program,” Everhart said.
Only a 40-by-60 concrete-floored structure was on the property when acquired at private treaty auction.
“We’ve constructed four stall barns, a hay barn, and a small residence. The original building has been converted into a headquarters,” Everhart said. “Horses spend most of their time in the pasture.”
Emphasizing she’s an “animal ‘welfare-ist,’ not an animal rightist,” Everhart feels “strong moral obligation to keep horses out of slaughter.
“There are no horses slaughtered in this country,” Everhart said. “Horses now go to Mexico or Canada for slaughter. Fortunately, however, worldwide horse meat consumption has sharply declined.
“Horse meat is not safe for human consumption with all of the drugs given to horses,” Everhart declared
While fewer horses are being produced, exact numbers are difficult to figure. “Organizations report lower registrations,” she said, “but it’s hard to know how many foals are born each year. “
Horse population is still considered high per capita. “It is our moral obligation to properly manage them, because horses can’t take care of themselves,” Everhart pointed out.
An open house at Rainbow Meadows, 4768 K-157, Junction City, is tentatively planned May 30th. “Confirmation of that date will be announced when the present health shutdown concludes,” Everhart verified.
Information is available at www.rainbowmeadowsranch.com and on Facebook.