Jessica Gray, owner of Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch, spends most of her time caring for abused and neglected horses. It is a commitment of care that has daily ups and downs, but one that she wouldn’t trade for the world.
“I’ve been around horses my whole life,” said Jessica. “It heals my heart to take these guys away from abuse and neglect and give them a chance.”
Having come from an abusive and neglectful past, Jessica finds healing through helping horses that experience similar treatment. Her past is the driving force to why she decided to turn her dream of having a boarding stable to a stable that solely cares for neglected and abused horses.
Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch, an incorporated non-profit for the state of Arizona, currently boards eight horses on a two-acre piece of land. Large space, adequate shading and immediate veterinary care are available services for the horses. Since opening the ranch in 2012, Jessica has formed valuable relationships with local veterinarians, farriers, and a surgical center in Gilbert that help provide continual care for the animals.
People in the community often report horses that are abused or neglected to law enforcement or livestock control. Sometimes those reports are overlooked. When that happens, Jessica is often contacted. She will then talk to the owner directly and if nothing can be resolved she will more proactively report it to law enforcement who will then step in and obtain a warrant.
Most of the horses that have come to her ranch are starved, severely beaten, abandoned or have not received proper dental and hoof care. Jessica’s motto is: no hoof, no tooth, no horse.
“It brought to light how easily a disadvantaged horse can be put in further disadvantage by not ending up somewhere to take the proper steps to remediate them.”
Common causes for neglect or abandoned horses are owners who are poorly prepared to care for a horse, inherit a horse from a family member, laziness or elderly people losing the ability to provide sustainable care. Sadly, horses that are abused are often owned by people who are greedy or cruel.
“My heart just splits in two. I think, ‘How can this happen?’” said Jessica.
Many times that question cannot be fully answered. For Jessica though, an alternative answer is clear and that is to provide necessary care for these types of horses. Every six weeks a farrier comes, if an emergency happens a vet will immediately be of assistance, and yearly check-ups are provided as well.
Because of the limited space at the ranch, Jessica will put additional horses at Double R Ranch or with private horse owners who have safe facilities. The horses stay there, although Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch provides much of the other care.
Although Jessica along with other private donors and supporters pay much of the care and monthly operational fees, donations are still needed for additional demands, such as larger pens, facilities, shade and space for more horses.
Jessica is grateful for the donations that have already poured in. More than $3,000 of donations have been put toward new panels, gates, special feeding, food storage, a shade structure and labor. For additional information or to donate, visit the Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch Expansion fund at gofundme.com/7bbkns.