KERHONKSON, N.Y. >> After the Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort shut down last month, its herd of 34 horses was sold to an auction house.
Most of the horses went on the auction block last Sunday, but through the efforts of the Pinegrove’s former barn manager and supporters, 32 were purchased by families and individuals who wanted to give them good homes.
The barn manager, Mike Offner, said that after the horses were sold to Rubin Livestock Services in Monticello, he began to organize a rescue mission. He said there was fear the horses could be purchased at auction by “kill buyers” who would sell them for slaughter or horse dealers who would sell them any way they could to make money. Those dealers do not necessarily match the personalities and needs of the horses with their buyers, which could cause the animals to be sold again later, Offner said.
There also was fear the horses would be misrepresented at auction and bought by people for whom they were not suitable, Offner said, adding that he had no part in the decision to sell the herd to the auction house.
As part of his efforts, Offner started a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy the horses at auction. By the time the auction rolled around, he had raised more than $10,000, he said.
On the auction day, Offner said he and a friend were able to buy 14 of the horses themselves. Friends and former resort customers were able to purchase more of the horses, so only four ended up going to people not connected with the rescue effort, he said.
Two of the horses were not offered at the auction, Offner said.
“All of them successfully were put into safe homes,” he said of the horses that were auctioned. “The four that got away were still bought by normal people and families.” He said none were sold to horse dealers.
Offner said he has spoken to the auction house about the two horses that were not offered for sale and that he hopes to be able to buy them, too.
“The prices at the auction were unusually high,” Offner noted. “That was to the favor of the horses.”
He said he and other rescuers were “very satisfied with the outcome.”
Offner also said he would be willing to repurchase any of the horses that were sold to others at the auction. He said those people can contact him via email at [email protected] Offner said he also gave his card to the buyers of the four horses that “got away” at the auction.
The 14 horses that Offner purchased are being pastured at no charge at Oak Tree Farm in Rifton, Offner said. He said his goal is to continue to own the horses and provide them with a safe forever home, because he has been responsible for their care for the past five years.
Offner said anyone who wants to assist his efforts can donate to the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/savethepinegrovehorses.
If he cannot continue to care for the horses himself, Offner said he personally will match each one with a new home. He said he has a long list of people who have offered.
First, though, the horses will be given a few months to settle down after the trauma they went through, he said.
Offner also said the rescue would not have been possible without all the people who helped and who have donated to the horses’ ongoing care. He said the other animals at the resort, including goats and a baby cow, were rescued, too.
The Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort at 30 Cherrytown Road in Kerhonkson, closed on Sept. 22.