FalconRidge Equine Rescue: A sanctuary for unwanted, abused, and neglected horses

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By Jae Marciano

I had horses growing up and decided that it was finally time to add one to the family again. I wanted to help the prevention of horses going to slaughter, so I did some research on rescue organizations and found FalconRidge Ranch.

FalconRidge Equine Rescue is a nonprofit, humane equine organization. It is a sanctuary, rehabilitation and training center for horses located in the foothills of North Valley Center in San Diego County. A long but beautiful drive!

The ranch was founded in 2002 to provide the care, rehabilitation, training, and temporary or permanent home to unwanted, abused, and neglected or slaughter-bound horses. Nicki Branch and David Lee Archer founded FalconRidge Ranch. Nicki rode hunters and jumpers as a teen and was a professional groom for Jimmy Williams and Rob Gage back in the 1970s. David is a professional horse trainer of 40 years and gives clinics nationwide.

Privately funded by themselves and special donors in the past, the rescue incorporated officially as FalconRidge Equine Rescue Inc. in 2007. Their mission is to improve equine physical, emotional, and mental well-being so that the lives of horses are enriched and they have a positive, healthy future.

Wanting to help the plight of horses, Nicki adopted her first rescue horse, Lucky Nash, in 2000. Nash was an Arabian from New York who lived his entire five years of life in a stall inside a dilapidated barn. Focusing on the horses that were the most unwanted, such as blind, swaybacked, or deformed horses, Nicki also found a great need for someone to take on the severely abused, behavior problem, or dangerous horses that were faced with being euthanized. Nicki has worked with equine rescues nationwide, including the Equine Protection Network and Equine Rescue Inc.

In addition to being a professional trainer and clinician, David is an author and amazing friend to the horse. His book “Be True To Your Horse” offers the best of natural horsemanship training methods and shows how easy it is to get horses to understand what humans want. Nicki and David work hand in hand with volunteers every day and have a beautiful ranch where I went to visit and check out the organization. I was overwhelmed with the amount of horses there.

The average number of rescued horses at any time at FalconRidge is over 50. Hundreds of horses have been saved, trained, housed, or re-homed by the equine charity in the past five years. A recent rescue case is Corkie, found abandoned by animal control officials and emaciated. Corkie appears to be a 16-year-old quarter horse gelding that arrived severely emaciated. He was slowly started on food again to avoid refeeding Syndrome, a condition that can kill starved horses if people feed them normal amounts of hay.

The ranch follows UC Davis guidelines for refeeding starved horses which includes small portions of alfalfa hay only and water for the first week and increasing in the second week. They have never lost an emaciated horse. Corkie has been gaining weight quickly and is now approaching normal weight. He is bright and a very sweet teddy bear of a guy!

Horses arrive to FalconRidge from all over the United States. New arrivals get the proper veterinary care, nutrition, chiropractic, training, or surgery they need to improve their lives. Those horses, whose lives have been saved from euthanasia, slaughter, or extreme neglect will stay at the ranch forever. Some of the healthy sound horses have been donated or given up for various reasons and will be rehabilitated, trained, and adopted out.

During rehabilitation, the horses are exercised and properly socialized with other horses and people  Some arrive extremely depressed, not wanting much to do with other horses or humans. Within months they have transformed into horses that play and interact happily. The adoptable horses fall into three categories: sanctuary, adoption rideable, and adoption pasture pet.

If you are interested in adopting a horse, please contact Nicki at nickbranch@aol.com and they will send you an adoption application. You can view all of the adoptable horses at the following link:  falconridgeequinerescue.blogspot.com/.

They ask that you first take a look at the blog where the adoptable horses are listed with pictures and descriptions and pick the ones that you are interested in before contacting them for an appointment. Most of the adoption fees are modest and some are free to good homes. So I picked about seven horses to look at and ended up coming home with two gorgeous paint mares.

David gives you the low down on each one as far as behavior and rideability and Nicki can give you some of the background on their rescue if she knows it.

My experience with them was very professional and smooth. At a time when houses are in foreclosure, Nicki and David are finding that many horses are abandoned in backyards and left to fend for themselves. They rely on monetary contributions to pay for veterinary bills and monthly feed bills. If you find that you would like to give a gift to a rescue organization this holiday season, this is a good one  They are the largest adoption agency for horses in San Diego County — essentially the “shelter for horses.”

FalconRidge is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, verified by GFAS, the only agency to accredit equine rescues in the world. They are also a Guidestar Premium member, committed to transparency for nonprofits. Check them out at www.falconridgerescue.org. If you need to contact me, email me at jaemarc@gmail.com.

Jae Marciano is a Ramona resident.

   
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