Operation provides old folks’ home for horses

Courtesy of Jackson Hole Horse Rescue
Two members of the Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding Association, who dropped off Scooter, left, and Chip to the Jackson Hole Horse Rescue, roam the pasture with the horses. Both horses have been adopted. Executive Director Maury Jones said the daughter of ranch owner Vern Evans fell in love with Chip and had to have him. The operation is just west of the Jackson Hole Airport overlooked by the Teton Mountains.

Courtesy of Jackson Hole Horse Rescue
Scout came to the Jackson Hole Horse Rescue as a wild 2-year old. With a lot of TLC and patience, he is now Executive Director Maury Jones' preferred mount.

Jackson Hole Horse Rescue is an organization that will touch the heart of anyone who has ever owned and loved a horse. Started in 2008, the group has placed nearly 200 horses into “forever” homes.

The inspiration for the horse rescue was Shadow, an aging mountain horse that developed arthritis.

“The horse was my friend,” said Maury “Jonesy” Jones, executive director and former professional outfitter. “He just couldn’t climb mountains any more. That’s when I decided old horses need an old folks’ home.”

It’s not just old horses that benefit from the horse rescue program.

“We have horses come to us that need to heal, be gentled or simply need a home. My first call came from a man who said he was out of work, out of money, and out of feed. The man said, please come and get my horses. The horses were nothing special, just average-sized sorrel mares.”

Jones was en route to deliver a horse to a family who wanted an old, gentle horse for three children to ride around the pasture, when interviewed.

“We have the perfect horse, 26 years old with a slight limp in the right rear leg from an old injury,” he said. “We have had success stories and other times we get our hearts broken. We had one horse that had been starved and abused. We put a lot of time and effort into it and thought it would be one of successes. Then the vet told us the horse was full of cancer and needed to be put down.”

One success was an untamed horse named Patience that Jones picked up in Lander, Wyo.

“We had a rough time even getting that bunch of horses from a very small corral into the trailer,” he said. “One of our volunteers was a 12-year-old girl who worked with Patience until she was so gentle, Patience could go around an obstacle course all by herself without a halter. You never saw a happier little girl than when she was allowed to adopt Patience as her own.”

There is no charge to adopt rescue horses, but donations are appreciated.

Jackson Hole Horse Rescue is the only horse rescue in the state of Wyoming. The cost of winter feed per horse averages about $600, not including veterinary and farrier expenses. Some horses are wintered in Crowheart, while others that need more care remain in Jackson. Jones manages a ranch west of the Jackson airport. The ranch owner provides a 40-acre irrigated pasture for the rescue in exchange for his guests being able to ride rescue horses.

No one has ever drawn a salary from the rescue operation. It is strictly a labor of love, said Jones, who became director two years ago. He and he and other volunteers have used money from their own pockets to keep it going. Most funding comes from the annual Jackson Hole Old Bill’s Fun Run which matches donations to the Horse Rescue.

“Donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated,” he said.

“They were in debt when I took over,” he said, adding that the operation is now debt free. “Old Bill’s Fun Run has treated us real well.”

“The horse rescue has been a lot of fun, but it’s also a heck of a lot of work.”

For more information call 307-887-3356 or email JonesyJacksonHole@gmail.com.