Disabled Animals Find A Second Chance At Montana Pet Sanctuary

lena_main.jpgUntil two years ago, Lena was a perfectly “normal” registered Quarter Horse mare, serving as someone’s riding horse. Then one day, her owner decided Lena had a problem that needed correcting.

Steve Smith and Alayne Marker, founders of the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary, wonder if the problem — a tendency to rear up — was actually caused by an inexperienced rider constantly pulling too hard on the reins, and the horse was reacting to poor riding skills. Whatever the case, Lena got the “training,” not the rider. This consisted of tying her reins tightly behind the saddle, and if she reared up, she’d go over backwards. This would teach her not to do it again. That was the “lesson.”

The professional trainer hired to teach Lena her lesson did this to her not once, not twice, but four times… and each time she went over backwards, landing on her head and back. The repeated blows to her head ruined her optic nerve. She is now totally and permanently blind.

As an 8-year-old blind mare, Lena was no longer considered worth much, except maybe for breeding purposes. Her owner tried to sell Lena, but found no one willing to pay the asking price. She contemplated selling her to the “canner,” the slaughterhouses where so many horses end up.

It was at this point that a friend of the owner’s, seeing the pitiful condition Lena was in and her bleak future, intervened. The friend couldn’t afford to buy Lena, but she offered to breed her, give the owner the foal, and keep Lena in exchange. The owner agreed.

So Lena was bred and successfully delivered a foal, securing her freedom. But the owner’s friend realized she couldn’t afford to keep Lena permanently. When she heard about the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary, a match was made.

Smith and Marker founded the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in December 2000, shortly after moving to the ranch permanently. When they bought the property in 1998, their dream was to turn the 160 acres of open grassland and cottonwoods into a sanctuary for disabled animals, those least likely to be adopted and most likely to be euthanized in traditional shelters. The ranch is now home to nearly 80 animals, more than half of them blind.

They call the ranch the “Rolling Dog” because their dogs love to roll around on their backs in the sagebrush and grass covered meadows on the property. They say that as many as four dogs at a time can be seen rolling around upside down, feet straight up in the air, scratching their backs in the fields.

The sanctuary’s disabled residents are remarkable animals. They are happy, energetic and loving. Many visitors can’t believe the animals they see romping with each other and running around are blind or cope with some other kind of handicap.

The sanctuary is open for visits from June through September on the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month. The animals love meeting visitors because it usually means treat time! Visiting hours are 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on those weekends. All visits are by appointment only.

Source: Rolling Dog Ranch Web Site

16 Responses to “Disabled Animals Find A Second Chance At Montana Pet Sanctuary”

  1. catmom5 says:

    Thank God for the people who founded this wonderful sanctuary. I cannot believe any “trainer” would do that to a horse ~ that is simply unbelievable. I am sorry that she ended up blind because of a stupid human being, but so happy that she found such a perfect home. Blessings to the friend who rescued her from what could have been a horrible death.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I took professional riding lessons and was taught to use a riding crop to tap the horses head, between the ears (not hard), if he tried rearing up and it worked.

    I’m surprised it didn’t break the horses neck or leg. That trainer should be sued!

  3. Anony says:

    The things people do to equines is heartbreaking. Thank God this poor horse had an angel on her shoulder.

  4. kaefamily says:

    Some people should never be allowed to ride horses nor to drive cars!

  5. Catlady says:

    So nice to see a happy ending for this poor horse. God bless the compassionate people who run this ranch.

  6. Trudy Jackson says:

    I’ll say it again. what in the Hell is wrong with people?
    I’m so very happy the horse ended up at a wonderful place.
    Charges should be brought against the original owner.

  7. Myrtle says:

    That poor horse because some stupid trainer made her go blind…what were they thinking?? O , they were not thinking…well that makes sense..they were not thinking..I am glad that this horse got a forever home from it..but the price she had to pay is absolutely sad…I hope that trainer gets to damage no more innocent animals. May the people who run the ranch and the wonderful person who took her in be blessed a thousands times over…they are the true animal caretakers…they care…special people…they take sad stories and give them happy endings.

  8. Stefani says:

    People like that “professional trainer” need to be put in jail.

  9. Sharon says:

    Where are the criminal animal cruelty charges against the trainer? If you don’t put him in jail what will prevent this from happening again? We need to start holding people accountable for their actions and enforce the law.

  10. Lynne says:

    Sharon, I totally agree. I would also urge everyone to donate when you can to the numerous sanctuaries like this one. The cost to maintain these facilities is huge. Every little bit helps. A good site with an extensive list of charities is www.sixdegrees.org.

  11. G in INdiana says:

    Well you think that’s bad, you should see what people do to TWHs, ASBs, and other high foot waving horses. Ugh.
    And let’s not forget just breeding them for looks instead of for brains and ability to move correctly. Tea cup hooves on 2000 pound animals are a recipe for founder and an early death (QHs).

  12. Nora and Rufus says:

    My God. Poor Lena, to be surrounded by cold, cruel and uncaring people her whole previous life! Thank God that a kind person took the initiative to rescue this gentle horse who was only needing someone to love and understand her. I grew up owning, riding, training and showing horses and the behavior described of Lena when previoulsy ridden was caused by painful and abusive handling on the riders part. Shame on those people! I hope God makes them pay someday for their callousness. As far as the “trainer” is concerned, he should be hogtied and horsewhipped and that would be the nicest thing I can think of to do to him.

  13. Anonymous says:

    BBC: Hermitage palace is cat’s whiskers
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7029370.stm
    The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, is famous as the palace of Empress Catherine the Great.

    The greatness of its cats is the less well-known side of its astonishing story.

  14. Judy says:

    Sharon ICAM the people who investigate cruelty are most likely too busy worring about someone having too many animals in one town or aa pet that is not on an approved list in another. It seems like animal protection is less about protecting animals and more about harrassing the people who do protect animals.

  15. Underdog says:

    What I find troubling is that the original owner was given Lena’s foal! What’s to prevent the morons from hiring the criminal “trainer” who may very well do the same thing to the foal?

    I agree. The guy should be hogtied and horsewhipped, but I don’t think the original “owners” should ever be allowed to have a horse again!

    Bless Smith and Marker, and their Rolling Dog Ranch Sanctuary. It’s a shame that there aren’t enough sanctuaries to house the millions of abused animals. Too many humans are such scumbags.

  16. jacquin says:

    My daughter adopted two stray house cats that have been domesticated, but they are “special need” cats. Cats located in KC, MO. Daughter relocating. Needs care facility for the cats that will not put them to sleep because of them being uncomfortable around people and other animals. Cats are not violent. Please help, if possible! 816-914-4871


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