Rescue. Rehabilitate. Rehome
By Sonia Duggan
Grazing horses and donkeys set against a backdrop of clear blue sky and rolling fields welcome you to a serene oasis in northern Collin County. If it weren’t for the sign out front indicating you were at Lone Star Ranch and Rescue, you’d think it was just another Texas ranch, not a sanctuary for equines.
Rescued from a life of neglect, all the horses and donkeys on the ranch have a story.
In the pasture, two miniature donkeys keep watch over the livestock. Rescued as babies, they were bottle fed until they could eat on her own. Now furry and friendly, their journey is complete as sanctuary animals. Nearby, a 3-year-old horse named Boomer grazes peacefully, looking much different from when she was rescued, having been abused and malnourished by previous owners.
A passion for horses is what led Taylor Murphy to her very own field of dreams. At 22, this former Plano East graduate runs Lone Star Ranch and Rescue, a nonprofit with a mission to educate the community, rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome horses.
Visiting with Taylor, it’s hard to believe this determined young horsewoman is only in her early 20s as she possesses the confidence, wisdom and knowledge of all things horse related of someone far beyond her age.
After graduating high school four years ago, Taylor tried Collin College for a few years but eventually stopped for a number of reasons. She now contemplates attending Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School someday because, unlike her studies before, now she feels like it will be more applicable.
While this young woman will say she didn’t set out to rescue horses, her journey began when she went in search of a horse to buy at popular local rescue. She was quickly recognized for her ability to handle horses which translated into a two year position as a trainer. And yes, she did adopt a horse named Dani.
“Working with so many rescued animals day in and day out turned out to be the final push to finding a way to do exactly what I wanted, needed, to do,” she said.
The dream of having a horse rescue necessitates a lot of things, but most importantly land is needed for them to roam and graze. Thankfully, the ideal situation presented itself when a family friend purchased a former goat farm in Blue Ridge near Princeton, and wanted a renter. The Murphy’s moved from Plano, and in 2016 opened Lone Star Ranch and Rescue, a 501c3.
In just one year, LSRR has brought in 24 rescues and has placed all but six of those animals, five of which are still in rehabilitation. The current collection of animals includes three horses and four donkeys, plus two former rescues that were adopted and now boarded at the facility.
From the beginning, running the nonprofit has been a family affair. Taylor, along with her mom and dad, Billy and Lisa Murphy, all work outside the home to supply funds to support the rescue.
“I try to keep my numbers low so I can afford them,” says Taylor.
In addition to their paying jobs, the family pools their skills for the nonprofit. Billy does construction and runs the financial side, Lisa handles graphic design and marketing and Taylor cares for the animals and runs the social media pages.
The horse community is close knit in Texas, and since many frequent horse shows, they trade ideas, share needs and opportunities with each other.
LSRR hopes to grow their fundraising/support network and Taylor often takes horses to local shows so people who are already in the industry can see them.
Having worked with a few other popular horse rescues over the past few years, Taylor developed her own philosophy for how she wanted to run hers, and what horses they will rescue.
“We use the same methods as private sellers do to find potential homes for our horses,” she said. We do have a contract that we require people to complete in order to adopt our animals. Once a potential adoptee has identified who they want to adopt, we do a site check to see if the facility our animals will be housed at is adequate. We get vet and farrier references, and then discuss proper care requirements. If everything works out, an adoption fee is collected and transport arranged.
Many equine rescues frequent kill pens and rescue horses or donkeys. Because horse slaughter is illegal in the U.S., the animals are held in pens for a period of times before being shipped to slaughter out of the country. Approximately 150,000 American horses are still rounded up each year and shipped to Canada and Mexico to be killed and their carcasses sold to international meat distributors.
Taylor said it is really just a ploy (by kill pen operators) to tug at the heartstrings of well-meaning people. The horses, ponies and donkeys purchased from kill pens are often sold at inflated prices to rescues and the cash raised often affords the kill pens to purchase even more equines to send to slaughter.
Taylor’s advice is to frequent horse auctions instead. “Your money will go further and there are plenty of sorry looking animals in need of rescue,” she said.
At the Murphy’s ranch, the horses and donkeys all come with different medical challenges, but with patience, love, and ample care, each one will eventually have their own success story.
One in particular Taylor loves to talk about is Perci, an off the track Thoroughbred.
“She came to us incredibly skinny (body condition score of a low 1). She had been a racehorse and retired with injuries and passed from the track to a private owner. Somewhere in between retirement and us getting the call for help, she became emaciated. She required 24-hour supervision for the first couple of weeks we had her, but she made it through wonderfully. All of her injuries and infections healed, she gained weight, and even helped us raise our baby donkeys. We worked with her and made sure all of her training stayed up to date, and in less than a year we found her the optimal home. She now has free run of a 100-acre ranch and has retired to be a horse at the young age of six.”
A new project for Taylor involves two donkeys that were rescued on Mother’s Day, abandoned on a property in Terrell. Extremely timid and suffering from neglect (especially their hooves), the mother/daughter duo, now known as Tequila and Salsa, are slowly growing more trusting after a few weeks of care. Taylor said once they get used to being haltered, their hooves will be tended to by a farrier.
As for the future plans, LSRR needs a truck and trailer to provide reliable transportation for their animals to networking events.
“Our current trailer has broken beyond the point that any repair shops will attempt to fix it,” Taylor said. “We are also in need of a truck larger than our current 2002 F-150. While it has gotten us by, it has complained the entire way and showed us that it’s not quite big enough to get the job done.”
Another goal is to remodel the goat barn to better equip larger equines. “For that, we need materials and manpower,” says Taylor.
To get the word out about Lone Star Ranch and Rescue, Taylor posts flyers, attends local networking events, and maintains an active Facebook page that generates a decent following. “We also try to connect with other barns and horse-people in the North Texas area,” she said.
The goal is to get Lone Star to be self sufficient and when they have more funding than they need, they would like to use that to assist other horse rescues.
“We seek to provide support to other rescues through direct funding, providing equipment and supplies, and by building a partnership with rescues throughout the local area and across the nation,” Taylor said.
Lone Star Ranch and Rescue
7397 FM 1377
Blue Ridge, TX
To donate or volunteer visit Lsrr.org