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Equine food bank seeks grant for haying equipment

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By Doug Bell

The Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, which was started last year by Evergreen resident Juliana Lehman, continues to help horse owners who are down to their last straw.

And now the organization is looking for a little help from local residents in an effort to land a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The money would enable the nonprofit to buy haying equipment and harvest donated fields of hay for horse owners in need.

The organization, started by Lehman to keep horses with owners who are struggling to feed them amid the poor economy, has helped more than 100 horses stay with their loved ones by providing feed and other services. Many of the horse owners who have received assistance are residents of Evergreen and Conifer.

Lehman said mountain area landowners have donated pastures of hay to her organization, but without equipment and manpower, there is no way to harvest the donations. The grant would be used to purchase equipment and to pay recipients to harvest the hay, which could then be provided at low cost to horse owners in need.

“The idea is to pay our recipients for haying, which employs them and helps get them on their feet again,” Lehman said. “We get hay for the going rate for cutting and putting it up. We then can sell hay to people and to horse rescues at a very reduced rate, and everyone wins.”

To win the grant, the food bank needs supporters to visit http://www.refresheverything.com/cohorsecarefoodbank and click on “Vote for this idea.” Supporters can vote daily through the end of April, and the organization with the most votes wins the cash.

Lehman’s goal is to help create similar food banks throughout the country to help keep people and their beloved equines together. American Cowboy magazine published a story on Colorado Horsecare Foodbank in November, and since then equine food banks have been started in five other states.

“The really big picture is to make Colorado a state that took care of the problem and helped families keep their horses,” she said, “and then help the rest of the United States follow suit.”

It costs $75 to $100 a month just to feed a horse hay, not including hoof trimming, veterinary visits and vaccines.

Colorado Horsecare is just kicking off its annual spring flower sale fund-raiser, and anyone interested in reserving plants should call Lehman at 303-670-6762.

The food bank also is planning a fund-raising ride this summer. The event will include a scavenger hunt and a barbecue, and will take place on a ranch in Sedalia.

“Anybody who’s involved in the horse world — if we can start keeping horses home and address the problem, then some of the unfortunate things that happen to these animals wouldn’t happen,” Lehman said.

For more information on the summer fund-raiser and on the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, visit www.horsefoodbank.org.