|Group's Mission: Saving Horses|
Group's Mission: Saving Horses
By: Lee Juillerat H&N Regional Editor
Herald & News Article dated January 9, 2010
Most people have never heard of Blue Sky Horse Rescue. Roy Agard thinks it's time to change that.
"We've always kept a low profile, but now we're getting so many horses that we need to go public," said Agard, who oversees the private, nonprofit organization that has 120 to 300 horses on 360 acres near Spring Lake south of Klamath Falls. "We want to expand and refine our program."
Over the past 15 years, Agard said the organization has saved more than 2,500 horses and adopted out more than 2,000 rehabilitated horses. For many years, it operated as an arm of Agard's construction business, Tomahawk, but the nonprofit was organized a year ago for tax purposes. Agard hopes to buy land to handle even more horses.
Blue Sky works with the U.S. Attorney General's Office for the District of Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management, and various humane societies and sheriff's departments throughout Oregon, including Klamath County.
Barns, corrals and other facilities have been built with materials recycled from demolition projects, including the former Sherm's Thunderbird grocery store. Tomahawk also crushes concrete recycled from demolition projects and uses profits from reselling materials to pay for feed, veterinary care, and other services. Horses are fed 30 pounds of hay a day, mostly from 350 to 400 tons grown annually on Blue Sky pastures.
"We get a lot of abused horses," Agard said, noting most come from and are adopted out to other areas, including Medford, Eugene, and Portland. Blue Sky is working with horses from recent Klamath County animal neglect cases, including a large group previously owned by Leta Johnson. In one case, a horse that had frozen testicles is just recovering enough to walk, Agard said.
"We couldn't have handled the Leta Johnson case without them," said Debby Fowler, a large animal investigator for the Klamath Humane Society. "Their cowboys know how to handle untrained horses, and they provide a sanctuary, feed and care for older horses." In the Johnson case, Fowler said, 158 horses were confiscated, along with 179 sheep and other animals.
Agard said the goal is to have horses adopted, but older horses are allowed to live out their lives on Blue Sky's pastures. Adoptable horses are free to qualifying adopters.
Blue Sky often ends up with horses from families, Agard said. "People can't afford to feed them anymore," he said. "It's either them or their kids."
Blue Sky also takes in animals from drug-related arrests. Some of those have included excellent roping, saddle and racing horses. Agard hopes to nearly triple the acerage and possibly build an indoor arena. In addition to providing a place to work with horses in bad weather, he said an arena could help if Blue Sky continues and expands a program launched last summer with children
from low-income families. "We began a program for troubled kids this past summer, where they come to the ranch and help feed, water and exercise the horses," Agard said. "The improvement of their attitude and behavior has been incredible."