Published in the Victoria Standard – Vol. 21, No. 16 – September 16 to September 29, 2013
Dale Stone, owner/operator of the Rocking Horse Ranch at Baddeck Forks, has come up with some new ideas to generate income to keep the ranch afloat. A $3000 increase in insurance rates is just one of the problems in recent times. The additional cost to provide liability coverage for the Rocking Horse Trail Rides has forced Dale to abandon the program. Income from the trail rides brought in nearly 80% of her annual income.
The Rocking Horse Ranch, a haven for rescue horses, has been running successfully for fourteen years. During the first ten years, with the Trail Rides program, the ranch was self-sustaining. In more recent years with the decrease in tourists coming to Cape Breton, like many other businesses, the ranch’s income has fallen off making it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
Dale can house up to 24 horses at a time. Hay alone costs about $15,000 a year when the horse barn is full. Add the cost of grain, and medicine, and care for the other animals that also find their way to the rescue ranch, it’s an expensive proposition. Dale is extremely grateful to her many sponsors who send donations, but this type of funding is unreliable, in that she never knows when or how much money she will have so it’s difficult to budget for feed and other necessities. Dale says that fortunately “healthy as a horse” is a maxim that holds up. Horses have remarkable constitutions and are not prone to illness. But often newly rescued animals need a lot of care including medical expenses.
Not one to give up, Dale is planning an Equine Wellness Program and is hopeful that this will provide the steady income she needs. Horses have long been used successfully in therapy for troubled children, people suffering depression, the elderly, and people with long term illness. Dale says that anyone can benefit from contact with animals, especially horses, and she is a perfect example. Years ago, a rescue horse helped Dale through a difficult period in her own life. When the Rocking Horse Ranch went up for sale, Dale knew that this was the work she was meant to do. She also plans to offer Natural Horsemanship Lessons and is opening a Petting Zoo with the hopes that these new services will boost earnings enough to keep the ranch running effectively.
On Friday, September 20th, Dale is hosting a Barn Dance at the ranch from 6:00 to 10:00 pm complete with a BBQ, and tours of the farm. Everyone is welcome. Guests should come in western attire. There will be prizes for the best outfits. Dale hopes this might even become an annual event.
Friend and cancer survivor Lisa Holt-Jones is doing a fund raising project of her own. On Sunday, September 22nd, Lisa and husband Ian, and their two dogs, Erik and Bertie will do a 10K walk from their home in Middle River to the Herring Choker Deli. Lisa is looking for sponsors to raise money for the Rocking Horse Ranch and also Serbia’s Forgotten Paws, a shelter for abandoned dogs and puppies. You can drop in to the Antiques Boutique in Baddeck to sign up or contact Lisa at home in Middle River.
Visit the Rocking Horse Ranch website at http://www.rockinghorseranch.ca/ to learn more about Dale’s work with all kinds of animals. And if you have some time to spare, she could really use some volunteer help around the barnyard, cleaning, grooming, feeding, and caring for the horses.