WILDWOOD, Mo. — Off Wild Horse Creek Road in Wildwood, rescued horses find rest and relaxation on 32 acres at R&R Ranch.
Owner Stacy Rolfe said, "They're the heart of it. The reasons people slow down, hang their heads out, take pictures and videos, it's the horses."
Not just any horses, but miniature horses.
Rolfe said, "If you don't know anything about R&R ranch, you would think those people are crazy, they just have miniature horses. There may be some truth to that but each one of them is from a rescued situation."
Thanks to the Rolfe family, horses who haven't had the best days are now living their best lives. Rolfe says that miniature horses are often given as pets to children, without realizing the care the animal requires. They tend to be bought for young children to ride, except most children weigh more than what the horse can safely carry. And because of their stature, they are prone to more health issues. That's why oftentimes the horse is put up for sale.
She said, "A miniature horse is more work than what people think they are."
Martha is a dwarf horse and came to the ranch 2 years ago in bad shape. She’s since become a viral sensation with her videos garnering millions of views on the R&R Ranch social media pages. Martha now has fans all over the world.
Rolfe, describing what she was like when she came to the ranch, said, "Her legs, if you can imagine, jutted straight out from her chest and down from an angle. It was painful to watch her walk. Martha's story is that of her resilience and the ability to have her transform and get her hooves trimmed and bring those feet closer in. And once that happened, there was no stopping her. And she was and still is filled with the most vivacious sense of living."
Martha's story took over social media and world news headlines. She is no doubt the most famous horse at the ranch. But each horse has a different story.
She said, "Once they do come here, they start getting treated like they've probably never been treated before in their life. These babies become my babies.”
There are 24 horses at R&R Ranch. And unlike most horse rescues, the horses here are not up for adoption. This is where they come to live the good life.
"We just like to know where our horses are. They come to us and we know we are going to give them a good life for the rest of their life," she said, explaining why she doesn’t put them up for adoption.
While R&R Ranch is full and has no more space for horses, they are ready to start free educational tours for the public after being closed during the pandemic. She doesn't ask for payment, just that people help to spread awareness about miniature horses. Expect to leave the tour knowing the heartbreaking stories about why each horse had to be rescued. The tours can be very emotional for some people, one of the reasons they are recommended for those 8 years old and up. While emotional, their stories are also inspiring.
She said, "What was this horse like when we got it and what is it like now, what did this horse have to go through? This helps people understand how there's a world that’s not so nice to miniature horses and this sheds light on that."
Raising awareness and sharing her love of miniature horses with the world.
The free tours are for ages 8 and up occur monthly, but spaces are filled as fast as she posts about them on their Instagram stories.
May's public tour is already booked. To try and reserve a future spot, follow them on social media for updates. Martha's story has been made into a book, which you can buy on their website. All proceeds going to their nonprofit and the horses.
Check out R&R Ranch on Instagram.