EXPLORING WITH HAPPY
The country group Shenandoah said what we’d all love to hear when they lulled the words, “I want to be loved like that. I want to be loved like that. A promise you can’t take back, if your going to love me, I want to be loved like that.”
The 132-acre Triple O Ranch in beautiful southeastern Oklahoma, just a few miles from Wister Lake, is an equine sanctuary that provides mercy, rehabilitation and a healthy family environment for all who dwell there. But most of all, the ranch and its owners provide a pasture full of love.
The ranch family includes founders Elizabeth O’Neal and Walley Orona, over 30 horses at any given time, three llamas named Kate from Tombstone, Calamity Jane and Josie Earp, birds, dogs, cats, ducks, guineas, rabbits, and a host of other critters, all which call the Triple O heaven.
Horses have always been Elizabeth and Walley’s passion and it is actually how the two met years ago. Elizabeth owned a trail riding service called Gypsy Heart Expeditions and Walley, a retired firefighter of 28 ½ years, took one of Elizabeth’s rides, and the two have been together ever since.
Proverbs 12:10 says, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal…” However, there are many who do not. Law enforcement agencies depend on the Triple O when they are called in for abused and severely neglected horses. Many of these horses border on death due to the starvation, neglect and abuse.
Once law enforcement makes the decision to confiscate, the owner must legally surrender the animal. The Triple O then picks it up and takes it directly to the veterinarian to have it examined, treated medically if necessary, and Coggins tested before they take it home to the ranch.
Ninety percent of the transportation for the equine, special feed, hay, veterinary needs and all other expenses comes out of the Triple O Ranch owner’s pocket. About 10 percent Orona says, comes from donations.
Once the horses arrive at the ranch from their critically dire circumstances, they seem to develop a unique buddy system, as is evident by two of the blind horses named Lance, a Morgan gelding, and Luna an Arabian mare.
Lance and Luna were freely affectionate to me, but their love for one another is so strong they immediately know when the other is missing, and they don’t hesitate to let their owners know about it!
That love, like Walley and Elizabeth’s love for their animals, reminds me of that Shenandoah song ‘I want to be loved like that.”
I asked Walley if last year’s drought had an effect on the number of starving horses they see, or are people just plain sorry, and I don’t mean remorseful. He says, “Some horses come from elderly people who are no longer able to care for them.”
However, some people don’t have an excuse. Scarlett, a 17-hands tall thoroughbred was rescued from a doctor in Arkansas who owned a thoroughbred-breeding farm. He had severely neglected 26 horses.
Scarlett was skin and bones when they retrieved her, and after just one year at the Triple O is beautiful and happy.
There are many other stories of heartache-to-happiness at the ranch. Gus and his buddy Captain Call – you guessed it, from the movie Lonesome Dove, Glory, Cinderella, Jewell, and a beloved and loveable lap donkey named Gypsy to name a few.
Wally says an immediate need to maintain these wonderful creatures is the material and labor for more stalls and stables; and with hay at an all time high (75 dollars a round bale, 12 dollars a square bale) it is harder than ever for the Triple O to afford to feed their animals. So even a donation of a couple of square bales from your barn, or a round bale can be lifesaving to these beautiful animals.
In case you can’t make it out to experience the blessings of the Triple O, and would like to help, you can donate money for feed where they purchase at these fine locations: Smart Mart, Heavener Feed Store, Farmers Co-op in Poteau and Atwood’s. All donations are tax deductible as the ranch is a 501 C3 Non-Profit Organization.
For more information about the Triple O Equine Ranch Sanctuary check out their facebook page, website, or contact Elizabeth O’Neal and Walley Orona at (918) 653-3350.