Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue was born out of love for horses and heroes. Our mission is to help horses and heroes by offering a safe place for healing, developing a sense of purpose, and establishing meaningful connections between horses and humans.
It all started with two horses, Mariposa and Montez. We had begun searching for horses to buy for our daughters and the cost of horses was staggering, depending on the breed, age, level of training, and so on. Through our research, we happened upon a horse rescue organization. We don't know why it hadn't occurred to us there would be organizations seeking homes for horses just as there are for dogs and cats.
Unfortunately, like dogs and cats, breeders and horse owners are not always responsible with breeding or caring for their animals. Sometimes they aren't able to care for their horses properly or they find they can't afford to care for them. As you might imagine, caring for a horse is a much larger endeavor than caring for most dogs or cats. Their sheer size, the space necessary to keep them, and the costs of feeding, grooming, training and veterinary bills can be an extraordinary burden.
We are so grateful that our horses were saved by rescue organizations and as a result we were able to bring them into our lives. Mariposa was found abandoned in a field, in the middle of nowhere, tied to a tree with multiple ropes. Whoever tied her there intended for her to die. Thankfully someone discovered her and got her to a horse rescue where we found her. Despite having trust issues, unsurprising given the way she was left, she is a sassy, strong and loving horse.
Another rescue organization purchased Montez at auction, but he was lucky not to be purchased by a kill buyer. Considered an old man at 16, Montez is believed to have been a ranch horse and was showing signs of wear with joints popping and bones creaking. Gorgeous boy that he is, he could easily have found himself on a truck bound for slaughter. Instead, we happened to walk into the rescue looking for a horse just a couple of days after the rescue had purchased him. It was love at first sight. He has turned out to be a well-trained and gentle giant.
Our experiences finding Montez and Mariposa opened our eyes to the world of horse rescue and the many horses in need of safe and loving homes. It also led us to the knowledge that hundreds and thousands of horses are being sent to slaughter every year. Many people don't realize this. According to the ASPCA, each year more than 100,000 American horses are trucked over the borders to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption in other countries. The slaughter pipeline is a nightmare for horses and as far from a humane process as you can get.
We wondered how this could happen. Who would allow their horse to be sent to slaughter? Most people would never willingly send their horse to slaughter, but sometimes people can no longer care for a horse. Circumstances change and perhaps they can't afford the vet bills or even the cost of hay. Maybe they tried to sell Montez themselves or find him a new home, but to no avail. Desperate, they take him to auction thinking a nice family or private buyer will buy him. All too often, however, the kill buyers who frequent these auctions are the ones who buy the horses. Once on a kill buyer's lot, a horses' fate is typically sealed.
We decided that if we could help save horses in any way, we wanted to do it. Our goal is to intercept horses before they end up in the slaughter pipeline including horses surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them or horses at auction and in other at-risk situations. The horses in our care are provided love, training, rehabilitation (both physical and emotional), and later offered for adoption to a forever home or the opportunity to serve as support animals for visitors to the ranch.
While we developed a plan for helping horses, we thought about our desire to help our heroes. As the family of a Navy veteran, one who was lucky to serve and return home unscathed, we had a strong desire to give back. We knew that our efforts to help and heal horses could also support veterans in need. What better way to help our heroes than through the powerful connection with horses? So many Veterans and first responders lack the support they need, and for Veterans with wounds both physical and emotional, the VA too often fails them. Medication is not always the answer and we all heal in different ways. We felt strongly that offering free access to horses was a small way to give back to our heroes. Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue was born out of love and respect for horses and heroes, and was founded in April 2017.
We provide a safe and non-judgmental place for Veterans, active military, first responders, and their families, to find release from every day challenges. We offer unstructured time with horses as well as a variety of programs to support our heroes. The programs we provide are offered at no charge to Veterans, active duty military, first responders, their family members, and to Gold Star families.
It touches the lives of all those who step on the silt, clay, and sand Colorado dirt and grass. What this place has done was allow me to write my own story on how I chose of found help. The ranch owners provide an abundance of resources but allows you to get that help at your own pace. As many of the veteran volunteers had spent part or much of their lives in structured military environments, they don't get the same help after leaving service or dealing with a different world being reintroduced back into society.
While some choose to find therapy in ranch hand work, some find comfort working with or grooming the horses or donkeys that were rescued from abused or deplorable conditions. Others enjoy the comfort of talking to each other such as during the monthly veteran musters they put on. Stories and experiences are shared around the bonfire in a brotherhood and sisterhood under the stars. There's a plethora of events and experiences for those who are on the ranch including hoe downs, team roping with cattle dummies, learning how to build structures, charity events, cookouts, and movie nights.
For me personally, I can find solace talking with other people who had served and are going through life's downward moments. It's a safe place where I can talk about traumatic moments in my life as well as help others with theirs or have experience similar moments. In complicated world, we need moments of comfort and happiness. I also enjoy partaking in riding lessons with Lindsay learning the art of horsemanship and trusting a close to or above 1,000-pound animal to work closely with me towards a common goal. I can always get a great laugh from watching Emerald and Zoe teaching the goats new tricks. A smile is guaranteed when you hear the donkeys screaming to say "Hi" to Dan or the chickens following Gloria, like their mother hen. Other times manual labor with a hammer and saw, teaming up with other volunteers, to help build structures for the animals or moving dirt gives me a sense of accomplishment. It gives me something to look forward to throughout the week as well as personal fulfillment.
Whatever you chose to do at the ranch, it's home. Dan, Gloria, the rest of the family and ranch community has built a special place and it's called Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue. - Power Em, Army Veteran
"It can be hard for someone who has found joy in volunteering since middle school to allow others to share their generosity with her family. But I am endlessly grateful and endlessly in awe of the powerful good that Allegiance Ranch and Equines Rescue does.
I know we can visibly see the good that the ranch does for its equine patrons. Saving them from dark fates that most of us don't want to befall companion animals. What may be harder for many to see is the good the ranch does for veterans and their families, in part because we're used to taking care of ourselves. Thankfully for us the ranch is a family of service members and their families. They get us. They know to respect time, silence and crabbiness. The ranch gives us freedom to be ourselves, if not with people, with our four-legged friends. More so to those we love who have served. Watching my husband spend quiet, contented moments with the horses is a real gift for me. We have made friends here, I have friends here, and not all of them are four-legged. Knowing that I always have a place where I am welcome, where my husband is welcome and not pried for information about what he experienced and his services, because here there are people who care about us and animals who love us and couldn't care less about our previous life events. Horses heal and I am thankful for the Ranch because this is a place of welcome and healing too." - Wife of Marine Veteran
"It's meaningful to make a difference in the horses' lives from being abused to total love and caring, which will help them get adopted out to a good family one day. I also like the events for veterans and their families. If you love horses and want to be a part of a great cause, this is the place for you. It's like being part of a big family that all comes together to do something good, and in turn you feel good about yourself." -David Usher, Marine Veteran and Volunteer
"As a horseman, the most meaningful aspect of volunteering at the ranch is seeing what a little TLC can do for a rescue horse. Gaining an abused or abandoned horse's trust and respect is not an easy task but once it's accomplished, being the person to re-write what that horse knows about people is extremely gratifying. It's also very fulfilling to see how a day spent outside with our beautiful (and sometimes silly) animals can positively impact anyone's life." - Lindsay Neitenbach, Volunteer and Trainer
"We were drawn to Allegiance Ranch by the openness and welcoming approach to the volunteer group as well as the opportunity to spend quality time with horses. Time at the ranch gives us an opportunity to spend time around horses and serve the veteran community." - Todd and Ainsley Heirls, Father and Daughter Volunteers
"Amazing organization doing great work for veterans and service members in our community. Amazing people." - Local Business Owner and Ranch Supporter
"My boyfriend was in the Army for 24 years. It's been really great for him to have a place to volunteer and feel welcome in Colorado as he just moved here from Florida. He loves coming out to the Ranch and being with the horses, and also the focus on veterans is something he really appreciates. He hopes to bring some of his soldiers to the Ranch at some point. If you're a veteran, just come out and enjoy yourself at one of the special events. Everyone is so friendly, and they always have refreshments!" - Carol Poynter, Volunteer