BY EMILY BROUILLETTE
I found Zuma’s Rescue Ranch (or should I say, they found me) 8 years ago during a pretty significant transitional period in my life. I had been unexpectedly laid off from my 15-year career as a chemist and was in a state of panic, stress, and fear of the unknown. I moved to Colorado in 1994 to work as a wrangler for a dude ranch in Crested Butte. My love for horses defines who I am, and I had lost that somewhere between my long career in Corporate America and starting my family. When I heard about Zuma’s from a friend, I immediately knew I had to be a part of it. I signed up that week to attend their volunteer orientation and was impressed to learn this ranch was so much more than a horse rescue and rehabilitation. They also change the lives of so many humans, mine included. From animal-assisted therapies for humans to equine education programs, this is truly a special place that thrives from community support and involvement. I’m excited to share a bit more about their history and how you can become involved with this magical place.
Named a 2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit, Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, has been rescuing horses and other farm animals and pairing them up with humans for therapy sessions in order to build trust since 2004. Named in honor of the first horse the founders purchased together in 2000, Zuma was a bright spirit – a truly once-in-a-lifetime horse who forever changed the hearts and minds of this professional horse family. By partnering those in need so that they may in turn rescue each other, they honor Zuma’s legacy. Serving the community since 2008, the mission of Zuma’s Rescue Ranch is to foster an environment of healing by pairing rescued horses with at-risk youth in mutually therapeutic programs.
Since 2004, the Messenich Family has saved the lives of thousands of horses and farm animals whose fate was otherwise predetermined. Recently, Zuma’s rescued “The Montana Three” from an auction in Montana; two special needs babies and a blind yearling. During the short time they have been at the ranch, the love, specialized care, and rehabilitation is proving successful, but they have a long road ahead and rely on human sponsors like yourself. Beyond the thousands of horses they’ve saved, the Messenichs have dedicated their mission to helping people in need by providing mental health services for Denver Children’s Home, Tennyson Center for Children, Mount St. Vincent Home, Jefferson Hills Center, among many others.
It’s no surprise that this past year has been tough, and many may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or emotional instability. Zuma’s clinicians, Carolyn Oldewage and Misty Sherbondy, can assist you in identifying the challenges you face and help you develop skills to improve your mental well-being. They offer life skills coaching, group therapy programs, private therapy sessions, and corporate team building opportunities. It’s no secret that most people feel less lonely in the presence of animals. Zuma’s recognizes the fact that caring for and just being in the presence of horses is beneficial for anxious and depressed people. Animals keep you anchored, and, in the present, which can keep negative thoughts at bay.
All of this caring work comes at a cost. The time it takes to rescue, rehabilitate, and provide care for a herd of 50+ horses is staggering (to say the least). Zuma’s relies on their daily group of volunteers, corporate sponsors, and supporters to make things possible. Whether you are looking to volunteer, join their riding academy, send your kiddos to summer camp, or head down for their Rock the Ranch summer series, Zuma’s has a place for you! If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to the amazing work Zuma’s consistently puts forward, please visit them at zumasrescueranch.com.