2023 March 25, Saturday
Nestled amid the rolling hills of Blair, Nebraska, is a sanctuary where horses, donkeys, miniature mules, and ponies find new beginnings. Rosco’s Rescue Ranch & Sanctuary, founded by Kate Burleson in September 2013, is a testament to the transformative power of compassion and a beacon of hope for equine in need.
For Burleson, the decision to rescue equine animals was deeply personal. “Horses give you a relationship that you cannot get with a dog, cat, or other type of pet,” she explained. “Most horses are ridden in some capacity, and therefore become your partner. You are trusting a 1,000-pound animal to get on his back. He in turn is trusting you not to lead him into danger. There is a mutual respect there, and that creates a bond between you and the horse.”
The bonds of trust and respect Burleson shared with her own horse, Rosco, inspired her to create a sanctuary in his name—a place where equine animals would be treated with the dignity they deserve. The story behind the sanctuary’s name is a reflection of Burleson’s connection with her own horse.
“Rosco is the name of my horse,” she said. “He has always had a high opinion of himself, lol. So when I decided to start the rescue, I knew he would think he was in charge, so I named it after him. Kind of had a catchy ring to it.”
Kate Burleson, Rosco’s Rescue Ranch
The mission of Rosco’s Rescue Ranch is both noble and challenging. Burleson described the harsh realities faced by many equine animals: “Horses are livestock, and as such, are expendable. You ‘use’ them and when they have given you all that they have or become old, you send them on their way. At that point, they are eating and not producing, working, or giving anything in return and just costing money.”
In contrast, Rosco’s Rescue Ranch provides a haven for equine animals who have been neglected or abused, giving them a chance at a better life.
Fulfilling this mission requires significant resources, and the ranch is run strictly on donations. “Challenges in addressing their needs come down to money,” Burleson stated. “Horses are expensive to feed and care for. My rescue is run strictly on donations. No grants or subsidies from the County, State or otherwise.” Burleson’s commitment to her mission is unwavering, even in the face of financial obstacles.
“Once I take on a rescue, I make a promise to him/her. I will find them another home if possible, or provide a home for them at the rescue until they die.”
The organization adheres to a no-kill philosophy, providing a forever home for equine that are not suitable for adoption. Burleson elaborates on the process of assessing adoptability: “I assess the horses, donkeys, ponies, etc., before I decide if I can rescue them. I will go to their current home, talk to their owners to get vet and farrier information (and verify that information with the Vet and Farrier they give as reference), training and temperament information, and observe the horse myself.” The thorough assessment ensures that each animal receives the care and attention they need.
Volunteers and foster homes play a crucial role in supporting the mission. Burleson recounts a success story involving two horses neglected in a Nebraska State Park: “Two ladies stepped forward, offering to foster them. Without them making room in their barns for those horses, the horses would have continued to suffer. Both foster moms worked tirelessly taking care of the horse they fostered, helping one regain close to 400 pounds, to bring his weight up, and the other to get the Veterinary care he needed and medication for Laminitis.”
The spirit of compassion embodied by Rosco’s Rescue Ranch is echoed in organizations across the nation. Front Range Equine Rescue, based in Colorado and Florida, is dedicated to stopping the abuse and neglect of horses. “Front Range Equine Rescue is dedicated to stopping the abuse and neglect of horses. Our rescue, education, and advocacy efforts help at-risk horses at both local and national levels,” states the organization’s website. Front Range Equine Rescue has played a vital role in the rehabilitation and adoption of horses in need, exemplifying the impact that equine rescue organizations can have at both the local and national levels.
Much like Rosco’s Rescue Ranch, Front Range Equine Rescue provides a refuge for equine animals in distress, offering them a second chance at life. Their work is driven by a commitment to ending the suffering of horses, both through direct rescue efforts and through education and advocacy on a national level. The organization’s dedication to humane treatment, rehabilitation, and rehoming of horses mirrors the core values of Rosco’s Rescue Ranch, and their collective efforts contribute to a brighter future for horses in need.
Also, in the heart of Nebraska, amid the rolling plains and windswept pastures, three other sanctuaries have risen to the call of duty—champions of compassion—where horses, donkeys, mules, and ponies find refuge from the darkness of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
The first of these sanctuaries, Epona Horse Rescue, stands as a beacon of light in the shadow of cruelty. With a steadfast commitment to the inherent worth of all equines, Epona’s guiding principle is profound: “all equine and other animals should live freely from cruelty, neglect and abuse.” Here, the promise of a brighter future awaits the suffering equines, as they are offered sanctuary, solace, and second chances.
Emerging as a fortress of hope, Double R Horse Rescue in Kearney, Nebraska, embodies the ethos that every equine life is precious, and every soul deserves redemption. The devoted team at Double R believes that, regardless of past hardships, every horse deserves a second chance at life. With hearts overflowing with love, the rescue has become a haven of healing and renewal.
Amid the vast landscapes of Omaha, Nebraska, Urban Acres Horse Rescue emerges as a sanctuary of dreams—a place where the forsaken and forgotten are embraced by a community of unwavering dedication. Each rescued equine is showered with love, care, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
The importance of all these sanctuaries cannot be overstated, for they provide more than just shelter—they offer redemption. As expressed by Epona Horse Rescue, their mission is “established for the purpose of relieving the suffering of all equine from neglect, abuse and needless death”. In the face of adversity, these valiant organizations have risen as defenders of the voiceless and guardians of the innocent.
Kate Burleson’s Rosco’s Rescue Ranch – right here in Blair, Nebraska – stands as a testament to the transformative power of compassion. The bonds formed between humans and equine transcend the constraints of utility and ownership, creating connections of mutual respect and trust. In the end, the journey of Rosco’s Rescue Ranch is not just about the animals it saves, but also about the lives it touches, and the hope it brings to a world where kindness can make all the difference.
With steadfast determination and unwavering devotion, Kate Burleson and the team at Rosco’s Rescue Ranch have carved a path of hope for equine animals. Together with like-minded organizations such as Front Range Equine Rescue, they represent a movement that values the lives and well-being of horses, donkeys, miniature mules, and ponies, offering them the love and care they so richly deserve.
Donate directly to Rosco’s Rescue Ranch here.