There’s nothing fun about horse rescues. Even a veteran of the process such as Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch founder Kim Meeder, has never learned to enjoy the process. But in the dozen years she’s been rescuing horses from neglect and abuse, she’s learned to appreciate the silver lining that comes from such horrible conditions.

“The horses are such a big part of the ranch, because the horses and children often have led parallel lives,” she says. “Over and over, we see wonderful things happen between battered horses and disadvantaged children. We’ve seen things that there are really no explanations for, other than the fact that horses really understand more than we give them credit for sometimes.”

Kim and her husband, Troy, worked to rescue abused horses for two years before the idea of a ranch for disadvantaged youth took hold. It was only after Kim saw the way troubled kids and recovering horses helped heal each other that the youth-ranch idea came about.

“About 75 percent of the ranch horses have been rescued from some of the most unimaginable abuse and neglect,” Kim says. “We’ve seen things no person should ever be a part of, and yet the need to intervene for horses is still there a dozen years later.”

Because she doesn’t have law-enforcement abilities, Kim can’t confiscate horses. Instead, she has to pay for the horses she rescues. But her approach often works best in these desperate situations.

“My job is to befriend these owners and help them understand that I have a great need for their dying horses,” she says. “I ask them to sell me their horses, and that works about 85 percent of the time.”

Often, she pays half the price in cash and half in hay that can be fed to other horses still on the property. Most often, Kim says, the horse owners have been abused in their own lives, and just don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.

Through the years, Kim has been involved in the rescue of several hundred horses, most of which she doesn’t have room to house at Crystal Peaks. But the 25 or so horses that are on her small, nine-acre tract, have been saved from a variety of situations. Severe abuse, bear attacks and even a collision with a tractor-trailer are just some of the situations Kim has encountered through the years. One ranch horse was described as “Satan in horseflesh” by his previous owners.

Not all the horses’ stories are sad cases, however.

“This one was rescued from obesity,” Kim says, pointing to an old dude-string horse that seems to be enjoying his new life in the Crystal Peaks corral.

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