Friday, June 08, 2012
Ponying up for new barn
DENISE MEMBRENO | Special to Laker Weekly
Pat Muncy is surrounded by her volunteers (from left) Sandra Parnell; Maeve Parnell, 7; Fiona Parnell, 3; Ray Wickersty (Muncy's son); Joseph Wickersty (Muncy's son); and Tony Grimm.
DENISE MEMBRENO | Special to Laker Weekly
Money to build a medical barn for the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue came from a Wells Fargo grant and private donations. Director Pat Muncy estimated about $10,000 is needed to complete the project.
The Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue has been a safe haven for horses in need for 10 years. Last year, an equine illness devastated the Hardy organization that has given horses homes when needed. Now it has gotten some much-needed help in the way of a grant, private donations and volunteer hours.
The organization will start its 10th year with a new medical barn.
"Especially in the winter, we get horses in here that are just about dead and now we will be able to put them up in here where it is warm and dry," said Pat Muncy, RVHR executive director. "It will help us immeasurably."
It would have helped last July when RVHR found one of its horses had strangles, a contagious upper-respiratory-tract infection that infects equines. The disease spreads when the nasal discharge contaminates pastures, barns or feed troughs. It infects equines of any age, although younger and elderly horses seem to be more susceptible.
The strangles had hit several other farms in the area at that time so RVHR instituted a self-imposed quarantine.
"That disease came in on someone's hands," explained Muncy. "They had been to another farm, touched a horse that had it and brought it here."
Only one of the horses died during the outbreak. The victim was one of Muncy's personal horses.
The quarantine was lifted in November after all the horses were tested and came up disease-free.
"It's policy around here. The horses are set up in groups," said Muncy. "One group is groomed, and the brushes are cleaned before going to the next. Everyone here hand sanitizes."
New horses are quarantined for one month; the weaker ones can now be housed in the barn. In addition to the stalls, the barn will house a classroom area, a place to birth fouls and a bunkroom to house up to four interns.
RVHR embarked on the construction project after receiving an $80,000 grant from a Wells Fargo foundation. Another $10,000 came from the private sector. Brown Construction in Bedford built the structure at a discounted rate, Muncy said. She estimated that about $10,000 more is needed to finish the project.
"We still need funds for interior stuff like walls for the office, bunkroom and bathroom, as well as finishing the plumbing and the rest of the electrical," she added.
Muncy said she is excited about the barn because she expects it will have a real impact on the community. When school children and patients from East Mental Health Clinic visit, there will be a place for them to congregate no matter what the weather.
"I see this as a community barn where owners who need help caring for ailing horses can bring them," said Muncy. "And I or some one on staff will help administer medications and clean wounds while the owner is at work."
None of this would be possible without the help of the RVHR volunteers. Muncy said they come in from all walks of life, all ages and all skill levels. The youngest volunteer is 3 years old.
One volunteer is especially important to Muncy.
"Tony impresses me," she said. "A hunting accident permanently paralyzed him and he is still out here."
"It happened New Year's Day 2011," explained volunteer Tony Grimm. "I had a T10 break. They fused it back together and the doctor said I probably would never feel anything below the waist again.
"I would like to go back to work again," continued Grimm. "But I can't climb around like you need to do on the job. Joe [Wickersty, Muncy's son] is my best bud and he brings me here. I still get to use some of my electrical knowledge here. It's fun."
Muncy said she is always in need of dedicated volunteers, but she cautions that caring for the 31 horses and ponies living at the rescue is hard work.
RVHR can handle up to 50 horses, but is not accepting any more at this time.
"Our board has decided not to take in any more because our finances can't support it," explained Muncy. "I get calls everyday. When one spot opens, we will take another. We have to be able to take care of the ones that are already here."
The public is invited to see the barn and meet the horses at an open house at the RVHR on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be barn tours, the annual tack sale of donated tack, face painting and food and drinks for sale. Admission is free.
"It's a fundraiser as well as a chance to meet the horses; we have at least 10 that are good riding horses, babies that have not been under saddle yet and older horses that just need a place to live out their lives," said Muncy.
Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, 1725 Edwardsville Road, Hardy. 721-1910, www.rvhr.com