Sweet Success!

Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue is positively ecstatic to announce the return of Cookie and Misty to Ruby Ranch! These two mini mares from the North Dakota 14 are back in our care! It’s been almost two years since Cookie and Misty were found to be severely underweight at the home of the adopter. Months after voluntarily returning the minis to Ruby Ranch, even after acknowledging their poor condition, the adopter reported to the authorities that Ruby Ranch had “stolen” them, which unfortunately forced a transfer of the minis back to their adoptive home in February 2015 and brought the issue to the civil courtroom.

Unfazed by the onslaught of falsities and baseless accusations broadcast publicly from the adopter, Ruby Ranch kept one thing as our singular focus: Cookie and Misty’s well-being. Throughout the negotiations, the adopter refused to sign several versions of a settlement proposal that would have allowed the minis to remain in the adopter’s possession while providing a standard of care to the minis that Ruby Ranch felt was required for their protection. In the end, the adopter relinquished Cookie and Misty (now, ironically, severely overweight) back to Ruby Ranch on Wednesday October 12, 2016 in return for money, and our promise that she would never have to see them again—an assurance we were happy to provide.

We are so delighted to be able to share with all of you who have supported Ruby Ranch that Cookie and Misty are back in our care. They are being evaluated for veterinary and behavioral issues at an undisclosed location. Once they are AGAIN restored to a healthy weight and determined to be in good overall health, they will be adopted to a forever home.

Ruby Ranch wishes to specifically thank our attorney, Juliet Piccone (Colorado Animal Attorneys/The Piccone Law Firm, LLC) for her work in settling this case. Her passion, commitment, creative thinking and expertise brought this happy settlement in a very short time-frame. She came late to the process after we were forced to fire our first attorney, but without hesitation she assembled the pieces of a case that we thought was irreparable and proffered a settlement with better terms than we had dared hope for. Juliet, we tip our riding helmets to you with gratitude and admiration.

Thank you so much to Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue friends and supporters who assisted us in this litigation with donations, prayers, well-wishes, and eyes-on commentary. And a salute to those RRHR friends who we know wish to remain anonymous because of the contentious nature of this case – we honor you. All of us at RRHR are so happy to share this good news! Now we are looking forward to spending less time and money in the courtroom and much more time in the barn where RRHR continues our mission to help horses in need. Sometimes the horses really do win… even if it takes a while!

Update on Cookie and Misty

We have an update in the case of Cookie and Misty (Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue v. Dawn Barden). The tentative settlement contemplated a year ago was never finalized (the parties could not agree to terms and communication became non-existent) and the case is moving forward. Dawn Barden has started a fundraiser with statements RRHR believes are misleading and defamatory. Below is a press release regarding the matter to set the record straight.

We have recently hired Juliet Piccone of Colorado Animal Attorneys who will be prosecuting our case now. Anyone interested in donating to help with expenses incurred in this case can click on Donations to make a tax-deductible donation.


August 18, 2016 BLACK FOREST, CO

Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue is a Colorado non-profit corporation founded for the purpose of rescuing abused, neglected and unwanted horses and finding suitable adoptive families for the horses. RRHR has the following response to adopter Dawn Barden’s recent public statements about Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue, Inc. v. Dawn Barden, El Paso County Court Case No. 2015C35005.

In 2013 Dawn Barden requested to adopt two mini mares from RRHR. In consideration for her promises to provide a certain standard of their care for the rest of their lives, and the right of return to RRHR upon breach of any condition, RRHR adopted Misty and Cookie to Dawn Barden pursuant to the terms and conditions of a signed contract. Ownership was not transferred at that time and remained with RRHR. After roughly eight months, a visit was made by a board member of Ruby Ranch to check on the conditions of the mini horses, and, finding them to be in acceptable condition and circumstances, consented to Dawn Barden having a Brand Inspection of the horses. The board member signed the inspection card, but ownership was not transferred from RRHR pursuant to state law.

On 11/9/2014 a trainer who sometimes worked as an independent contractor of Ruby Ranch had the occasion to examine Cookie and Misty, found them to be underweight, and contacted Ruby Ranch to share her concerns. Ruby Ranch immediately contacted Dawn Barden to discuss Cookie and Misty. Dawn Barden followed up with a lengthy email that concluded with the sentences “We would really like to learn through this process and be able to keep them here with us, but I understand that if you feel they need to go to your place for better care you will take them. See you at 2 p.m.” The following day representatives of Ruby Ranch arrived at the Barden Residence to pick up Cookie and Misty. They were loaded into the Ruby Ranch trailer with the assistance of Dawn Barden and returned to the Ruby Ranch facility.

Ruby Ranch assessed the animals’ weight using a weight tape and determined that the horses were 25% and 30% under the ideal weight specified by its veterinarian for each horse. Cookie and Misty were immediately put on a re-feeding program and regained a healthy weight within 2-3 months. During these months Ruby Ranch received one phone call roughly two days after their return to RRHR from a member of the Barden family inquiring about the minis. There was no other indication from the Barden family to Ruby Ranch that they had any further interest in or concern for Cookie and Misty’s well-being or future arrangements.

On 12/1/14, the Ruby Ranch Board of Directors wrote to Ms. Barden and requested that she supply Ruby Ranch with copies of all records relating to Cookie and Misty as well as the Brand Inspections. Barden did not respond. On 2/5/15, Barden contacted the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and reported that Ruby Ranch had “stolen” the mini horses and filed a theft report. After some discussion with various interested parties, the Sheriff’s Office stated that the issue was a civil matter. Upon advice of counsel, RRHR returned the mini horses to Barden under protest. The deputies advised that any further dispute in the matter should be taken to civil court. Although RRHR was disappointed that they would have to go to such great lengths both financially and logistically to enforce a contract freely signed by Barden, the subject lawsuit was subsequently filed. Since picking up Cookie and Misty on November 10, 2014, no member of RRHR has contacted any member of the Barden family or approached her property, or encouraged anyone else to do so, and has endeavored to avoid any engagement with the many provocative statements made by Barden on social media. The aim of RRHR has never been to defame or humiliate Ms. Barden or her family, only to ensure a healthy future for Cookie and Misty.

In August of 2015, a portion of the trial proceeded and then the two parties were ordered into conference, where a rough outline of a settlement agreement was negotiated. The two parties we ordered to sort out the language and details of the agreement within 30 days. The agreement process dragged out and the parties were unable to come to terms and the case was in limbo.

In June of 2016, Ruby Ranch hired new counsel, Juliet Piccone of Colorado Animal Attorneys, and began considering options for resolution of the case in a way that would be satisfactory to the mission of Ruby Ranch; that is to ensure that any horse it takes in has minimum standard of care as to ensure the horse has a quality of life free from hunger, neglect or mistreatment. Both Barden’s attorney and RRHR’s former attorney were allowed to withdraw from the case. On August 17th the two parties appeared before Judge Sletta in El Paso County Court for a status conference and were ordered, again, into mediation, which has yet to be scheduled. In the event an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed. Ruby Ranch continues to be concerned for the long-term well-being of these horses and is committed to doing whatever it can to ensure their quality of life.

Farewell to Our Founders

RRHR said farewell to our founders, Pat and Roger, who reluctantly moved toward semi-retirement. As we continue to down-size, RRHR’s focus is on providing resources to other rescues/sanctuaries, as well as members of the community, rather than housing horses at one facility.

RRHR has accomplished great deeds this past year. Among the RRHR adoptions, companion-only horses found permanent homes and horses from owners who could no longer care for them received safe haven. Some who were in jeopardy of the slaughter truck were saved at auction, others simply needed a new home. Thirty-two horses were gelded through the RRHR low-cost gelding program and euthanasia was provided when the situation demanded.

Look for more of these programs in the coming year as we continue to disperse your generous donations.