Have you ever been interested in helping horses in need? Get the scoop on volunteering at a horse rescue from RW crew member Monique, who worked at the Pretty Horses of Baja Rescue to rehabilitate horses coming from less-than-ideal situations. Not only does this amazing organization give these horses a second chance, but it also allows riders from all walks of life to come closer to nature!
When I lived in San Diego, I spent my weekends volunteering at an animal rescue organization located in Baja, California called the Pretty Horses Rescue. I got involved with the rescue sort of by accident. I was looking to ride horses in Mexico just for fun as a weekend getaway. I knew that horseback riding geared toward tourism in Mexico often comes at the horse's expense, so I wanted to make sure I didn't contribute to this inhumane treatment. I came across Pretty Horses of Baja Rescue online and I thought it might be a great option!
I booked a trail ride and fell in love with the organization. Their mission is to provide new homes, quality food, and loving care to horses and other animals that have been mistreated, malnourished, or abused. The rescue also educates guest riders and volunteers on how they can help the horses. After my initial visit, I began going to the ranch every month, which soon turned into every weekend.
A Better Life for Horses in Need
The founder of the rescue, Krystal, began to show me the ways of the ranch. Krystal’s training methods are based on the individual needs of the horses. Often, horses come to the rescue with rough starts in life. The restarting process is sometimes more of a rehabilitation process. Typical training starts with letting the horses settle into their new home. Even just a consistent feeding schedule along with soft loving hands offers these horses comfort and eases their stress and anxiety.
Once the horses settle in and develop some trust in humans, they are worked in the round pen to create a passive leadership relationship and teach them groundwork through desensitization, pressure and release, and other basics. The horses are also ponied on the trail to give them experience and assess how they behave outside of the ranch setting. Then once the horses are ready, the experienced employees and volunteers start putting miles on them out on trails until they are ready for client riders. If the horses aren’t suited for trail rides, there is always a home for them at the ranch.
There is no set goal for these horses except to offer them a better life. Some of the horses are used for riding, some for therapy use, some will be adopted to new homes, and some will just live the rest of their days at Pretty Horses Rescue.
Enjoying the Ride
At the rescue I found myself helping with any and all tasks that needed tending. Some of these tasks included feeding, washing, grooming, riding, and training the rescue horses. I also led trail rides for visitors. Every day was different. Sometimes our days would be filled with tacking up horses for rides, untacking horses, and doing it all over again for the next ride with new horses. The next could be a day of maintenance with tasks such as grooming, tending to any wounds, medicating, and round pen training sessions. Other days could be completely free, and we would take a couple of horses and dogs out to spend the afternoon in the hills of Baja.
Even after moving to San Luis Obispo, I try to make trips back as often as possible. One of the rides the rescue offers is out into the hills of Baja for an overnight stay at Hacienda El Capricho. This is a fun trip I like to do with family and friends when I make my way back to San Diego. For this ride, we arrive at Pretty Horses Ranch in the afternoon and saddle up to take off for a three-hour ride to the Hacienda. The ride takes us through the back hills of Baja and across beautiful and breathtaking landscapes. We often take breaks to let the horses rest from the uphill terrain while we enjoy the views.
Upon arriving at the beautiful hacienda tucked in the valley of El Gato, we find our rooms, hang out, relax around the fire, and have a drink while dinner is being prepared. Since there is no internet or cell service, the total media blackout offers a greater feeling of being away and unplugged from whatever stress we have left behind. We wake up the following morning for breakfast and hit the trail to ride the two hours back to the ranch.
Pretty Horses Rescue offers a number of riding packages and services! The Ocean View Horseback Ride takes you up into the hills where you can enjoy the fresh air and ocean views. The Dinner Sunset Ride is an hour ride including dinner and drinks in front of a cozy fire. The popular Wine and Ride includes an hour ride with the addition of local wines and appetizers.
On any of these rides, if you need extras on the trail such as a jacket, snacks, or water, you may want to bring your own saddlebags and accessories. I recommend the following products:
- Reinsman Insulated Saddle Bag with Cantle Bag
- Cashel Cantle Saddlebag Medium
- Outback Trading Co Oilskin Cantle Saddlebag
- Equi-Tech Tacky-One Horn Insulated Saddlebag
- Cashel Water Bottle Holder
- Cashel Snap-On Lunch Saddlebag
- Tipperary Sportage 8500 Riding Helmet
- Troxel Fallon Taylor Riding Helmet
- Troxel Liberty Riding Helmet
The rescue also offers riding lessons and horse care classes. All proceeds go back into the ranch towards feed, care, vet bills, fence repairs, and building structures such as stalls. The ranch is a non-profit that relies on donations and volunteers to keep all their critters happy and healthy. Booking a trail ride or becoming a sponsor is a fun and easy way to give back and get some time with these awesome horses!
If you wish to donate to the Pretty Horses Rescue or others like it, some of the products that are always needed are:
- Grooming supplies
- Fly spray and fly masks
- Health care products and supplements
- New or used tack and equipment