Mountain Valley Horse Rescue teach both horses and humans |

Mountain Valley Horse Rescue teach both horses and humans

Eagle County horse rescue specializes in training, rehabilitation and more

Sassy is among the ponies at Mountain Valley Horse Rescue.

In McCoy, Colorado, there are nearly more horses than people.

That may sound strange, but according to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are only 24 residents in McCoy, which is also home to the Mountain Valley Horse Rescue. MVHR is currently home to 31 rescues (including horses, ponies, a donkey and a mule), with four more horses sprinkled through foster homes and pastures. Additionally, MVHR has rescued 10 chickens that lay eggs that are sold to benefit the rescue.

MVHR began in Eagle in 2004 when two horses were reported abandoned in the Flat Tops. Shana Devins, executive director, jumped on the opportunity to save them and dove right into the rescue game. In 2005, the rescue became regionally official, and in 2015, it was relocated to McCoy in order to have more space.

They’ve adopted out over 100 horses and currently have 31 waiting to find their forever homes, with a waiting list of 40 horses looking to come to the rescue.

Aside from removing horses from unfortunate situations, they also work on physically rehabilitating the animals. Some come to the rescue with overgrown hooves, resulting in ligament problems in their legs — one horse has only one eye, and another has neurological damage.

Sinclair is the oldest horse on the property, clocking in at 46 years old.

However, between Devins, Amy Ben-Horin and a slew of volunteers, the horses manage to heal both physically and emotionally.

“Every day I’m amazed by these horses that have been completely let down by people,” Devins said. “Seeing them come back is pretty inspiring.”

While adopting a horse from MVHR is certainly rewarding, the process of vetting applicants is a thorough one.

Applicants are asked to visit the horse at the rescue and take three lessons with the rescue’s trainer. Following the lessons and a reference check, the adopter takes the horse for a 30-day trial period, after which, horses are rarely taken back or returned. Horses have gone to homes all over the country, such as Wisconsin, California, Arizona and beyond.

And it’s not just the humans that receive a healthy dose of preparation.

“We’d never adopt out a horse that isn’t healthy or that hasn’t seen our trainer,” Ben-Horin said. “It’s for their well-being.”

Lending a helping hand

Devins, Ben-Horin and an on-site trainer are the only three people employed by the ranch, and because the staff is so small, MVHR must rely on the community for support.

Mountain Valley Horse Rescue currently houses 31 horses on-site, with four more in foster homes and neighboring pastures.

The first Saturday of every month is Community Volunteer Day, allowing people to offer up their time to help with the daily chores of feeding, cleaning and beyond.

“It really builds community,” Ben-Horin said. “They help out with chores and we all have lunch together. We welcome the littlest of kids to the oldest of adults.”

More information on volunteering can be found at

Teach the children

Of course, the horses need love and care, but so does the youth of the community.

MVHR hosts multiple group camps to teach children about the responsibilities of taking care of a horse — all too often, horses come to the rescue after being purchased by a family that was unprepared to care for them.

The camps range from Mini Horse Heroes (for ages 3 to 5) all the way up through high school.

Mini Horse Heroes not only teaches children how to care for the horses, but also helps them to achieve preschool learning targets via movement, songs and crafts.

Other programs include visits to the ranch for school groups and the homeschooled population of the area.

Additionally, a summer camp teaches children about horse care and training. Participants will learn about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (responsibility, empowerment, stewardship, perseverance, empathy, cooperation and trust) and will either receive riding lessons or take trail rides.

Find more information on the camps and school groups at

Arts & Entertainment Editor Nate Day can be reached at and 970-748-2932.

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