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Skydog Ranch, opened last fall southeast of Prineville, provides homes to rescued horses

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY SKYDOG RANCH - Staff at Skydog Ranch work with horses as well as some donkeys, nursing the animals back to health after their rescue.

A recently launched horse rescue ranch near Prineville is inviting the public to visit this Saturday and learn more about how the facility operates.

Skydog Ranch is a 9,000 acre facility located in Central Oregon, roughly 40 miles southeast of Prineville. It is described by its leadership as "a forever home for wild mustangs who have ended up in horrible and dangerous situations — at kill pens, at auctions, in unloving homes where they have often been starved and neglected."  

Clare Staples, president and founder of the ranch, said that many of the horses on the property come directly from kill pens or auctions where they were hours away from being shipped to slaughter in Mexico or Canada.

She noted that they actively seek out horses to rescue and receive 25 to 30 messages or emails each day regarding horses that are in kill pens, at auction or in other bad situations.

"We keep an eye on all of the kill pens and are linked to a lot of groups that rescue from kill pens," she said.

The horses they rescue run the gamut, Staples said, from completely wild and unfit for adoption to broken and ready ride.

"We bring them back to health," she said of the 53 rescued horses that currently reside at the ranch. "Pretty much every horse that is here right now is in pretty good health."

The facility employs people in recovery who are actively working 12 step programs as well as military veterans because facility leaders believe that they and the horses form a unique bond, both having come from situations that tested them emotionally and physically. 

Skydog Ranch opened late this past fall, Staples points out, and since the area encountered a large amount of snow a short time later, facility leaders could not reach out to the community and introduce themselves and their operation to the public. Saturday's event is intended to make up for that.

"We are just having a little family day, an open day for anyone who wants to come here and meet the mustangs," she said. "We are not set up with enough staff for people to continually come out here, so we wanted to have a day where people can come out and meet the horses and interact with them and with us."

The event, which will take place on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., is free to attend and will feature hay rides, face painting, an ice cream truck, a popcorn cart, cotton candy and a barbecue. In addition, a horse trainer will offer a clinic and work with the horses.

"It is a beautiful ranch out there," Staples said. "We are very lucky."

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