Changes and Growth
We've hinted, posted some pictures, even said it a few times. Now, we officially announce: as of May 1, GSH is leasing an additional 28 acres approximately 6 miles from our current Renner location.
It's exciting, of course, and overwhelming. There is a lot to do. This land has been a cattle pasture for the last several years, so retrofitting it for the rescue is going to take some planning and work. Right now it's a blank canvas, but we are really excited about it.
Unfortunately, this expansion comes about because of a not-so-great reason. GSH Kathi is going through some potentially serious health issues with her heart right now. For those of you who don't know, Kathi is the mother of Tiffany and Nina Ring, who run the GSH Renner location, and the caretaker of our Sanctuary location in Iowa and our Therapeutic Riding Program. As she's been going through testing, it has been revealed that she has had a small heart attack in the past year or so. She continues to struggle with arrhythmia, and it's looking like she will need more help than just meds to get it under control. Due to her health, and the physical restrictions and potentially financial restrictions if she has to take more time off from work, we are rapidly moving forward with moving as much of the rescue operations and horses to the South Dakota location as we can. We start this weekend. Star and Copper will be coming to Renner from Adrian, and Sammy and Queenie, our senior horses at 30+ and 29, will be coming to Adrian. Diesel will likely be coming to Adrian as well.
We officially take possession of the property on May 1. There is still a lot to be done, including building the new road access, replacing fences, putting in the automatic waterer, etc. The property is separated nicely - there is a large, 18 acre pasture at the back of it, which will be the part we take over first. It simply needs a gate, a water tank, and a section of fencing to the east fortified to have it operational. We are hoping to move the first group of horses to this pasture on the weekend of May 10 - and that will include Jackie, Dex, Copper, Heidi, and potentially Star. At that point, we will be moving Kiwi, Mouse and Prince out to the Renner location (assuming Mouse has come back from his adopter for his rehab by then), and Holly, if she's at the Forest City location and we're able to draw her Coggins. Coggins on all but Mouse & Holly are already drawn or in process, so we're good to go there.
The good thing is that the per horse cost is only increasing by $10 per month, as the cost of the pasture lease is approximately the same as the cost of feeding hay year round has been and we are not able to add additional numbers of horses until the rescue is more self-sufficient financially. The bonus is we have lots of land, the horses will be on grass and hills, and we will be able to help so much more when things are in place. We need the space. We have been contacted recently on a couple of large seizures - and unfortunately had to offer limited support. With the space, we'll be able to offer a place to bring the horses, as that's typically the hardest hurdle to overcome. The support for neglected/seized horses is overwhelming - a lot of people want to help - so we don't stress getting the hay and their needs taken care of. Having this land, especially with the eventual holding pens, will be the final item we need to be able to reach out and help more.
This is a very stressful and overwhelming process. It's make it or break it for the rescue. We hope we have your support and would love to show people around and get ideas. We have also sent in a letter asking for an expedited decision on our 501(c)(3) application that is pending, as there are grants and such we could hopefully apply for.
We need your help.
This is a huge, huge undertaking. There is a ton of work to be done, supplies to be bought, fences to fix, and just the cost of the lease and increase in horses in South Dakota means that our expenses are skyrocketing. We'll need volunteers to help handle the horses, feed the horses, etc. We need corral panels, t-posts/fencing equipment, hay, etc. We need to decrease the amount of out-of-pocket money GSH Kathi is putting into the rescue, not just the amount of physical work.
You can help multiple ways. You can volunteer your time. You can donate specific items to help us expand. You can sponsor a horse to help build up the hay fund and help provide ongoing farrier and feed costs. You can simply donate to the Expansion fund to help us absorb the costs and also start a fund to eventually purchase either this land or another property for the rescue. You can simply share this out, or send up a good thought or prayer to us. Whatever you can do is greatly appreciated.
Immediate Needed Items:
- Hands on help! We need to pull fence, pound posts, walk fence lines, feed, handle & train horses, etc.
- We will be looking for a John Deere Gator (or similar vehicle) or at least a 4x4 quickly. Either donated or very, very affordable. Even borrowed would be nice.
- Approximately 600 feet of high-quality outdoor hoses to fill the tank in the big pasture
- Shelterlogic type shelters for the pasture and winter area, as well as a garage type for storage
- Corral Panels, or Noble Panel type-pens to be set up in the holding area; and/or to build a round pen/arena in the work area
- $4000 to cover the one year lease. After the first year we will be discussing a longer-term lease if it all works out for us.
- $500-1000 to cover weed control. The pasture has been neglected the past few years for weed control so we're starting from scratch
- Approximately $9-10,000 to cover the Renner 2014-2015 hay fund. We purchase our hay in September to get us through the winter, and usually purchase our squares (300 or so) in June. Our current estimates show we will likely need 56-64 round bales in Renner, and 300 squares. Hay donations would be appreciated as well.
- Fencing - electric tape, hot wire, t-post caps, connectors, etc. Critical fencing is being replaced from barbed wire to smooth wire, however we have a couple areas that will need to be replaced yet this year
- Round bale holders - at least two
Longer Term Wants/Needs
- A skid steer for just about everything - putting in round bales, snow removal, pasture cleanup, you name it
- Horse-safe fencing and/or panels to build paddocks for the blind and special needs horses. They currently will remain at the current Renner location and Adrian location, but it would be nice to eventually have them all together
- A sign for the entrance. Cannot be permanent, but would be nice to have.
- A broken down, doesn't need to be road worthy, just needs a solid floor and no sharp edges that could hurt anyone, 2-horse straight load trailer to park and secure for trailer loading training
And for Kathi ...
As for Kathi and the Forest City location, we ask for lots of good thoughts and prayers, that hopefully her health improves. She could, of course, always use help. Even with a lower amount of horses, the pens still need to be cleaned daily, the round bales need to be put in a couple times a week, maintenance needs to be done, horses need to be groomed and the meadow needs to be fenced in to help even more. There will still be ongoing costs and needs. Anything we can do to reduce her stress and the physical work required is a huge help. Contact us if you are able to help out. We particularly need someone to coordinate volunteers - someone who can schedule shifts, reach out to groups to volunteer, and more.
Thank you for all the support we have received so far, and we hope to continue to have your support. This expansion will bring out many, many opportunities, and along with all the restructuring we've done we hope GSH continues to grow into a respected organization for our community.