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High Country Horse Council: Education and assistance

High Country Horse Council (HCHC) is a newly-formed nonprofit organization helping to educate people about horses and assisting people when they are unable to provide the resources needed for the proper care of their horse. HCHC was started by Dr. Dwight Hooton, DVM, a local veterinarian, and a number of local horsepeople; “We determined that we could make horses happier and healthier by better educating people.“

Board members include Dr. Dwight Hooton, DVM; Chris Crump, Archuleta County Animal Control; Rob Cole, local Natural Balance Farrier; Linda Stanger, Pagosa Springs Elementary School counselor; Rachael Baker, MS; Kelly Day, natural horse trainer; and Beverly Compton. Local equine veterinarians Dr. Greg Schick and Dr. Kitzel Farrah are involved with the organization and help with our medical programs. Schick believes that, “Educating horse owners about the proper care of horses helps prevent horses from ending up needing help. That saves the horse owner time and money.”

HCHC is involved with several horse-related projects this summer and is actively looking for volunteer help. These programs include semi-monthly radio shows on KWUF, with upcoming shows (May 10) pasture management and noxious weeds toxic to horses with Bill Nobles, CSU Extension Agent, (May 24) wildland fire and horse evacuation — Rob Cole, Drew Peterson, Archuleta County Emergency Management. “When to call a Vet” and “High country preparedness” are topics for June. We are looking for radio show topic suggestions for future shows, along with any questions you might have. Questions may be sent to the HCHC e-mail at highcountryhorsecoucil@yahoo.com; any questions submitted will be answered on the radio with responses returned to sender’s e-mail address.

HCHC educational programs include after-school presentations on the topics of horsemanship and horse care. We believe education about proper animal care should begin with children; what is learned by a child follows that child throughout his/her life. We will have local equine professionals with their horses and/or mules present at these after school programs. We are also working with local 4-H leaders to help provide the knowledge necessary for optimal care of their livestock. Rob Cole, Natural Balance Farrier and board member, believes, “The more information a horse owner has about horse care, the better care they can provide their own horse. That is why High Country Horse Council’s cornerstone purpose is education.”

We are developing a website that will have basic horse care information, contact information and links to websites for more information. If you have professional writing and editing skills and would like to help with our website, contact Rachael Baker at highcountryhorsecouncil@yahoo.com.

High Country Horse Council intends to build a wind shelter this summer for one small herd of horses in need. Horses that have shelter from the wind are better able to cope with the severe weather here. We are now taking donations for the cost of the shelter. Volunteers will erect the shelter. If you would like to help with this project, contact Beverly Compton at bevkresz@centurytel.net. We would like to thank Hal George for providing the construction drawings and materials list.

HCHC helped 10 horses with hay this past winter. These horses were underweight and their owners were temporarily unable to provide hay. We directed horse owners needing help to LASSO, who supplied and delivered the hay. If you know of a horse in need, please contact one of the HCHC BOD members for assistance.

HCHC will have an educational booth at the Archuleta County Fair. Here we can engage people, especially children, in a fun and relaxed environment. This will help us to provide information to those attending the fair and to talk about our programs. We will have guest speakers at specific times during the fair; topics will include nutrition, tips for the trail, first aid, etc. We are open to suggestions for other topics and speakers. High Country Horse Council also seeks to promote responsible equine activities; hunting, trail riding, showing, driving and rodeo are among those the council supports.

We will be contributing to the Hunters Guide outlining things people may not know about the high country and their horse. The things that will be discussed include, but are not limited to, special considerations when taking horses above 9,000 feet, things people do that may inadvertently cause colic, and other tips about keeping horses in camp.

High Country Horse Council will be assisting Archuleta County in developing a horse evacuation plan in the event of fire or other natural disasters. We will develop a check list of what you need to have on hand, including a first aid kit and some form of identification for animals. The plan will include contact information and instructions on how to proceed in the event of a catastrophe. We will be looking for volunteers with trucks and horse trailers to help with evacuating livestock.

The mission of the High Country Horse Council is to provide education and resources to help keep horses healthy.

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