Volunteer Taylor Corey will be taught how to train on the ground at Mountain Valley Horse Rescue May 2020 in McCoy.

When it comes to the gift Mountain Valley Horse Rescue received for building a new barn and indoor arena, there is no going around.

The Rhea Bigelow Charitable Trust turned to the rescue in McCoy for the construction of the new Rhea Bigelow Charitable Trust Legacy Barn. The space will consist of an indoor arena and a barn, with an office and warehouse on the second floor. It will also include five horse stables, a viewing area and a multipurpose facility.

Excavation of the site began on March 22nd, and construction of the building was scheduled to begin in late June or early July in hopes of using the million dollar facility in the fall. Morton Buildings is the barn builder, a nationally known barn builder based in Hayden.

Marleen Bosch, director of resources at rescue, said the new barn will help make the no-frills things easier and more convenient.

“We’re doing it smart and we’re making it affordable, we’re still a nonprofit,” she said.

Bosch was formerly treasurer on the nonprofit’s board of directors, but as the need grew, the board found it necessary to add a new position, which she took up on April 1. She writes to the entire board of directors his vision and practical approach to advancing the mission of salvation.

“We always said make sure we get it smart,” said Bosch. “We definitely worked hard to get here.”

The new building opens up new possibilities, both for horses and for people.

“This barn and shed … will allow us to do rehabilitation and training year round,” said Cookie Murphy-Pettee, president of the board for rescue.

The new facility will allow more grooming and training for the horses during the winter months when the weather can be an issue, by providing year-round training and socialization that leads to successful adoptions. It will also help facilitate more programming for horse rescue.

Previously, horse training would largely stop during the winter months or horses would have to be brought by McCoy to the Eagle County Fairgrounds facility to train indoors, which costs time and money, Murphy-Pettee said.

“It’s a turning point for us,” said Shana Devins, executive director of Mountain Valley Horse Rescue. “We are so flattered by the opportunity to build your legacy … to live up to and change the lives of hundreds of horses.”

Devins said Bigelow’s family approached the rescue in December and then offered the money. Amazed and flattered, Devins said the gift showed that the work rescuing it is paying off.

The Rhea Bigelow Charitable Trust, which is located in the Steamboat Springs area, wanted to stay out of the public eye, but said the donation would go to a good cause. The donation of the money for the construction of “Robin’s Nest”, as it is later called, will help the horses for future generations.

The Rhea Bigelow Charitable Trust is a private family foundation established in 2017 to honor the memory and life’s work of Robin Rhea Bigelow. It honors Robin’s memory by giving donations for the activities and causes that were most important to her in life. His donations focus on the environment and responsibility, art, animals, education and family.

Head trainer Joel Aguilar, who lives on the property and helps with the care and maintenance of the horses, said he was more than excited to be able to train horses year round. He says it will provide a more controlled environment, a classroom of sorts, to teach the animals. Being able to teach indoors without the elements will not only help him but also mean less distraction for the horses, he said.

Aguilar uses his own riding style, which he only learned through practice. He began rescuing horses in college at kill buy auctions in Grand Junction and learned training techniques himself.

“The horses taught me everything I know,” he said. “I never learned from anyone.”

He said it was important to bond with a horse as most people distrust them based on their experience with them. By becoming a partner in their social structure, he can work with them to give them a new life.

“I like the bond I can build with them,” said Aguilar. “You cannot approach them like a human because most of the problems they have are human-related … I have to let them know in their thought process that I will be their friend.”

One thing horses get a lot of in rescue are friends. The association is heavily dependent on voluntary help. Whether a group of students, someone with free time or someone who wants to learn more about horses, the work would not be possible without volunteers.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of making everything work here,” said Murphy-Pettee. “The more we brought people with us, the more we could get people to get people to understand what the problem is.”

Everything to do with programming

The programming of the rescue offers is also used to care for the horses and can be expanded with the new system and the year-round training opportunities that it creates.

“It’s going to be a really nice addition to what we have,” said Kensie Redden, program coordinator. “So many other things we can add to the new space we’re getting.”

Redden said the programs are designed to build bonding and communication experiences between children and horses.

“It’s a cool way to challenge these horses,” she said. “To learn again how to negotiate with different people and tell them different things.”

This applies to both the horses and the children who work with them.

Since most horses have been abused or neglected, be it intentionally or due to a lack of knowledge of the previous owner, it is the rescue mission to educate young people about the responsibility of a horse and its benefits for life.

“We want to help children and adults understand how to read a horse and hopefully help that horse one way or another, but also understand that just because they are no longer rideable, it’s not rubbish,” said Redden. “It’s such a unique connection between humans and horses, and they have so much to offer beyond just riding.”

How it grew

Rescue has grown exponentially since its inception in 2004. The McCoy property was purchased five years ago and helped create a permanent location to help more horses.

“That was a big step for us,” said Bosch. “It was the first real commitment to take this organization to the next level.”

With seven horses and an operating budget of approximately $ 35,000 in the first year, the organization has grown to approximately 30 horses and an operating budget of $ 375,000. It is one of the few horse rescue organizations on the Western Slope.

Donations are essential as there is no federal money to save horses as they are considered farm animals.