Jackie Lynch’s favorite horse is named Bones — and his name fits in a literal sense. He was just skin and bones when she bought him six years ago.
Since, she has established a livlihood taking in horses that would otherwise be sent to the slaughter.
For Lynch, the owner of Lynchland Stables, saving horses from the slaughterhouse is nothing new. For the last 10 years, she has rescued horses from desperate situations all across the Front Range.
Several years ago, Lynch helped intervene at CSU when 80 horses that had been used in either reproduction processes or research programs were let go because CSU had no further use for them. The horses were originally to be sent to slaughter, but Lynch and others stepped in and conducted a local auction during which many of the horses were bought by local horse enthusiasts.
Horses sold to slaughterhouses are shipped across the border to Mexico or Canada, where slaughterhouses are legal. The journey made is a long one with cramped conditions, little to no food or water and no air conditioning. The only requirement is that a horse be able to stand before going to slaughter.
Lynch has seen conditions for horses deteriorate as the economy worsens, leaving owners struggling to feed their horses. So, she takes them in as her own.
“It’s not about the dollar sign behind the horse,” said Susan Herlihy, a horse trainer at Lynch Stables. “It is about how much you love taking care of them. I think [Lynch]’s stables reflect that. It’s not about pristine white fences, it’s about how often [Lynch] is out cleaning stalls and tending horses in the middle of the night that might have been injured,” Herlihy said.
Currently, Lynch owns 12 horses, with 30 residing in her stables. She keeps most of the horses for riding lessons.
And the horses aren’t the only CSU representatives that Lynch takes in. She has also offered homes to CSU students.
“I think we probably end up with one student a year that lives with us for some period of time,” she said.
Lynch sometimes takes in out-of-state students for the holidays who have nowhere to go. She also offers her students the option of working in exchange for their horse’s board, which normally costs upwards of $350 a month.
Lynch won’t take in just anyone, however.
“Our motto is no snobby people, ever. We want people who are involved with their horses,” she said. “We really want the princesses to go somewhere else.”
The students who ride at Lynchland Stables say the horses there have changed their life.
Tara Salbrig, a biology and art double major, purchased two of the horses that Lynch rescued. She hopes to train and resell them.
“I went about six months without riding, and my GPA just sank to a 1.75. As soon as I stared riding again I got a 4.0.” Salbrig said. “I wouldn’t even be going to school if it wasn’t for this.”
Salbrig also works 11 hours a week for Lynch’s work exchange program.
Having a job at Lynch Stables is no easy task, though.
Lynch recalls a large snowstorm that hit Fort Collins two years ago. A young girl boarding her horse parked in Timnath and walked to the stables to take care of the horses.
Mallery Dettmer, an equine science major, knows firsthand the emotional benefits that a horse can provide to its owner.
“I started having issues with my heart last summer,” she said. “In February, I wore a heart moniter because no one knew what was wrong… My heart hasn’t hurt since I have been out here… Being out here with the horses gave me my heart back.”
Staff writer Caitlin Elizabeth Solsky can be reached at email@example.com.