ORONDO — A little over half a dozen volunteers arrived Saturday morning at the Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue ranch in Orondo to help out with some much-needed spring cleaning and repair.
Many volunteers took to the task of weeding the 18-acre ranch, home to the nonprofit that, since 2006, has been caring for neglected, abused or mistreated horses.
Volunteers also repaired a wind-damaged horse shelter and helped reinforce areas where the horses lean to reach plants outside the fence.
Chelan Middle School students Gracie Stocker and Teagan Hedrich chose to spend their Saturday helping out as they both enjoy horses, they said.
Both Gracie and Teagan got their hands dirty and green from pulling weeds, but Gracie said she didn’t really mind.
It’s for a good cause.
“We’re doing good for the amount of people here,” said Mckena Fraley of East Wenatchee who balances volunteer work with her full-time job at Pine Canyon Growers.
Fraley has been helping at the ranch almost every day before and after work since January 2020 — all out passion, she said.
“Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t really bat an eye on it,” Fraley said. “I enjoy it a lot so it doesn’t feel like work. It’s been a really good, learning experience. I don’t know where else I would have ever gotten to pick up and figure out all the things that I have from being out here.”
The nonprofit relies on the generosity of volunteers and donations to keep it going, said Cindy Wall, retired Wenatchee resident and the organization’s publicity coordinator.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, donations and volunteers began to dwindle, and the organization does not have the resources to hire employees. All donations go to care for the horses, Wall said.
The pandemic forced the nonprofit to cancel two annual fundraisers this past year. Saturday’s spring cleaning is one of the first times a sizable group of volunteers has been able to come out to help at the ranch, said Claudia Trapp, founder and chairman of the board.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Trapp said.
Trapp has a full-time job as a postmaster in Entiat and has been working with horses for most of her adult life, a desire that was spurred on since she never had the opportunity to own any horses as a child, she said.
“Now, look how many I have,” Trapp said.
The nonprofit’s goal is to find neglected, abused or mistreated horses, bring them back to health and try to find new homes for them. Trusting Spirit has six horses currently up for adoption. Some of them have been there for five to 10 years or were even born there.
When the organization became a nonprofit in 2006, 28 horses were in its care, Trapp said.
It was a frightening time to have so many horses that required care, especially as most volunteers and organization board members have full-time jobs, she said. They made it through then and have weathered the pandemic.
The work has been a rewarding experience.
“When we adopt one out and you find the perfect home, it makes it all worth it,” Trapp said. “A lot of long hours, no sleep, or you have a horse that’s ill and you gotta keep an eye on it and it’s below zero, you do it. You just do it. There’s not much time to think about whether I’d like to or not. It’s definitely a commitment you can’t renege on.”
Trusting Spirit Horse Rescue only takes in horses through the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society and other agencies. Due to limited funds, sometimes the organization is required to triage its care and resources, according to Wall. That means they might have to turn away some horses.
The goal is to bring a horse back to health so it can be adopted, but if one horse requires too much care or surgery, that could take away resources from the other horses, resources that are already limited, Wall said.
The organization could provide help to more horses if they have enough donations to support the work, Wall said. For information, go to trustingspirithorserescue.org.
“Get out here,” Fraley said. “Get involved. It’s a great environment. You learn so much. The horses have so much to teach us. You definitely won’t regret it.”