How We Do It …

All our equines live in “villages” and are made as comfortable as possible through several modalities including appropriate feed supplementation, bodywork, massage, acupuncture as well as traditional veterinary medicine. We follow the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Guidelines for equine welfare and work closely with our vets to ensure each equine receives proper medical care. We search until we find the right modality for each animal.

On the way to dinner

Paddock Paradise® System

Paddock Paradise® is a concept based on “the lifestyles of the wild and free-roaming horses living naturally in the U.S. Great Basin” (the American Mustang) that was first conceived as a way to provide domestic horses with an environment that more closely resembles their natural habitat. Read all about it here.

Our Process 

Long before an animal comes to the Sanctuary our process begins. Usually it involves lengthy communications with the rescue organization that has initially rescued the equine to gather as much history as is known from the circumstances of the rescue to the medical care details. Often the rescue is a long distance from the Sanctuary so great care has to be taken to arrange transport appropriate to the needs of the animal. Many times it is necessary to wait until the animal is healthy enough to withstand a stressful trip. Often there may be a companion animal that must be taken into consideration, particularly because separation of bonded pairs affects stress level and could jeopardize the health of the horse or donkey.

Once the equine arrives at Red Bell Run, Mary and the staff spring into action. The condition of the animal is assessed. Vitals are taken, and if all is well the animal is taken to the village that has been chosen that will best meet his or her needs.

Within 24 hours of arrival the animal is usually seen by the veterinarian and a medical plan is established. Often x-rays of the feet need to be taken to guide the farrier. It is an unfortunate reality that the feet are often in poor shape and need some sort of corrective measures for the animal to be comfortable. All our animals are on a vaccination schedule and new animals are rotated in as appropriate.

Each equine has a medical chart that is kept up to date daily. Our veterinarians are coming out on a weekly basis in order to care for our large number of equines. The farrier is also here each week in order to get all our animals trimmed and shod as necessary. The feeding and supplement plan are constantly being fine-tuned. We have special stalls and footing in the dry lots for equines who are foundered.

We use the Paddock Paradise® system to help manage our minis that put on weight with too much grazing, we have an “equine agility” ring and round pen for exercise and stimulation. And on a pretty day you can often see staff hand walking their charges through the Sanctuary for exercise.

Although most of our animals are considered to have “special needs”, some of course are more acute than others. Staff keeps a log and at the end of the day “zone reports” are turned in at the time clock for each village and these are reviewed by the farm manager. Because of our size and complexity of care, throughout the day the staff keeps in touch with the farm manager via Chat if any animal needs immediate attention.

On a pretty day you can often see staff hand walking their charges through the vineyard for exercise. The animals are groomed and loved on each day. With patience, training and small steps, with time, even the ones most mistrustful of humans begins to relax and enjoy a new quality of life.

Equine Agility has landed at Red Bell Run

Poncho is here to show every pony and donkey how it’s done!


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