End of the Trail Horse Rescue/Sanctuary and Dream Catcher Therapy Center
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s NOT the end of the trail for most of the horses rescued by this organization. Here, abused, neglected, unwanted or abandoned equines get a new lease on life, a new occupation, and the love and appreciation of grateful human beings who need what they have to offer.
Horse rescue is only one activity of a three-part operation run by Kathy Hamm west of Olathe, Colo. Hamm is a certified equine investigator and is in the process of becoming certified with the Colorado Department of Agriculture as a commissioned Bureau of Animal Protection Officer. Her goal is to educate, enlighten, advise, and teach the public regarding proper horse care, but also what to look for or who to call when they feel a horse is being abused. Hamm found that once a rescue horse is rehabilitated, they can make wonderful therapeutic riding partners for individuals with neurological disorders, ADHD, spinal cord injuries, developmental delays, Sensory Integration (S.I.) and/or skeletal dysfunction.
The need for a local therapy program for the Hamm’s Down Syndrome daughter led to the creation of Dream Catcher Therapy Center Inc., which hires specially trained therapists who employ hippotherapy – the use of the horse as a tool to address neurological impairments of all kinds – to help both children and adults. This program shares the facilities and resident horses at the beautiful, well-kept, 80-acre spread owned by Kathy and husband Bill.
As far back as the 1600s, the physical and emotional benefits of equine-assisted therapy have been recognized as beneficial. The motion of a horse stimulates and tones the muscles of the rider, while the relationship with the animal promotes a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. Hippotherapy combines physical, occupational, and speech therapies with the movement of the horse to obtain specific therapy goals.
Working with abused and neglected horses, Hamm became aware of the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse. So Dream Catcher has expanded its services into the mental health arena and is working closely with Health and Human Services and child welfare in Delta and Montrose counties. Studies show that adults who are about to become spousal or child abusers will attack animals in the household first. Almost three-fourths of abused women and children admitted to shelters report that the person who abused them had either threatened, injured, or killed their pet. And statistics show that violent criminals are much more likely to have a history of animal abuse than non-violent criminals.
This Dream Catcher program, Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP), is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist, a horse professional, and the client. The focus is not riding or horsemanship, but activities to help the client problem-solve, build confidence, teamwork, and relationships, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication. It offers clients hope, acceptance, caring, and opportunities to heal, to improve, to learn, to love, to participate, and to understand themselves in a nurturing and non-threatening environment with the help of a powerful partner, the horse.
Dream Catcher is also partnering with the Veterans’ Center to help returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and readjustment to civilian life. The organization is assisting CASA in dealing with delinquent and/or abused children, and the Meth Task Force in helping to get people off of drugs and alcohol.
How Kathy Hamm manages all these activities is a miracle! She has the assistance of two paid staff, several volunteers, and nine board members, but the work is endless, and operating funds are never sufficient. (Hamm and her husband often use their own money to pick up the slack.) The organization is a 501.c.3 non-profit and relies on donations from individuals, corporations, and charities. Donations of hay, grain, pastureland and such are always welcome, too. Hamm currently has 23 horses at the sanctuary, with seven in foster care, and 25 on the waiting list. Local businesses or individuals are encouraged to “adopt” a rescue horse and provide for its care financially. You will receive a photo of your animal and the undying gratitude of the folks who care for them.
Thanks to the generosity of many local individuals, charities, and corporations, Hamm is happy to report that an Anderson Sling has been purchased for use in the rescue of horses that are down and must be lifted to their feet or extricated from ditches, etc. The sling is a magnificent piece of technology, made especially for equines, and can be used with a helicopter or forklift. It has saved the lives of numerous horses where it is available, but there has not been one on the entire Western Slope of Colorado until now. A horse in danger of dying could not wait until one was brought from the Front Range, and several horses have been lost for no other reason than the fact that a sling was not available. The Anderson Sling cost $5,200, a huge sum for the organization to come up with, but individual donors and organizations such as the American Humane Society, the Summerly Foundation, and the ASPCA have helped fulfill this worthy goal. This valuable asset will now be made available to all veterinarians in the area and anyone else in need of it.
Kathy Hamm’s current wish list for End of the Trail Horse Rescue/Sanctuary includes wide-band electric fencing for her facilities, as she doesn’t believe in barbed wire. She is also seeking concerned individuals at the grassroots level to assist in locating and reporting starving, neglected, and abused animals on the Western Slope. Ideally, she would like to have a group of people in each area, who would be her eyes and ears on the ground. This is a great chance for horse lovers to unite for a worthy cause.
Kathy Hamm may be reached at (970) 323-5400. Or check out the Dream Catcher Therapy Center Web site at http://www.DCTC.org.
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