Second Chance Ranch, a Washington state charity with 45 horses, is struggling to meet its obligations as the 20-year-old organization transitions away from horse rescue, according to founder and president Katie Merwick.
After announcing in January a plan to “wind down” the rescue side of her certified 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, which has responsibly re-homed an estimated 1,500, Merwick says donations to her charity have evaporated, and she is struggling.
“I announced in January that we were planning to wind down the horse rescue by May 2015. The problem right now is that we have no budget, we’re $30,000 in debt, and people are fronting us hay,” Merwick says. “We held a fundraiser event earlier this year, and we didn’t even cover our costs.”
Merwick, 51, cites the changing landscape of horse rescue, which has seen a sharp increase in the number of charities competing for funding, as a factor in the growing financial strain that began for her charity in the late 2000s.
“There’s so many charities popping up, and this makes grant funding more competitive,” she says, noting that larger charities tend to attract the greatest amount of funds.
In the next year, Merwick will actively work to re-home all but five Washington champion racehorses, while she personally shifts gears to parlay her decades of experience in the horse world into an educational outreach effort, in which she will self-publish educational books and material, and host seminars and clinics.
Her goal will be to help horse owners fix broken relationships with their Thoroughbreds, a subject she has deep experience with, as she works to use her expertise in a proactive way.
Second Chance Ranch will not dissolve its 501 (c) 3 status, and the herd of 45 will remain with her until she can get them re-homed. Although her goal is to complete the transition by May 2015, horses yet to be re-homed will remain with her until she can find them suitable homes, she says. Horses remaining with her in permanent sanctuary are: The Great Face, No Giveaway, Flying Notes, Chickasaw Park, and a Warmblood named Konig.
In the meantime, Merwick hopes to lend her expertise to other nonprofits, teaching them best practices for matching the right horse with the ideal new owner, and to teach seminars to horsemen helping to address and correct bad behavior. “I want to be a resource for people, and to teach them how to fix relationships with their horses,” she says. “So many people have been calling on me for my expertise, and I would like to do more of this.”
She has decades of experience to fall back on. Prior to founding Second Chance Ranch 20 years ago, she worked as a private horse trainer. She reaped financial success by training clients and their horses, and by re-training and selling Thoroughbreds off the track.
As Merwick looks ahead to this next phase of her life with horses, she will continue to work hard to ensure the best care for her herd of 45. Those interested in donating to their care are invited to do so at http://www.secondchanceranch.org. ♥