EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - A strong response to a KRDO NewsChannel 13 story last week resulted in free hay for some horse owners during the weekend.
On Friday, the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank distributed free hay to 15 horse owners who applied and met guidelines. Many owners have struggled with affording hay costs that have doubled or tripled since a year ago.
Foodbank director Juliana Lehman said the organization used monetary donations to buy hay from Oklahoma and Texas.
"It looks very different from ours here, but I've had it tested, and it has enough nutrients to keep horses going."
Lehman also said the food bank was bombarded with calls after a KRDO NewsChannel 13 story last Monday raised awareness of the situation. She hopes the free hay will discourage horse owners from starving or abandoning their animals.
One of the hay recipients is Bob Snyder, 66, of Calhan. He owns five horses and said his limited Social Security income makes it difficult to afford paying more to feed them. With the recent dry weather, he said, there are few grazing opportunities for livestock.
"If not for the free hay, I'd have to sell my horses or put them down," he said. "And that's not what I raised my horses for -- taking them so they can be killed, meat shipped to Europe, etc. And the horse people just don't like that to happen."
Lehman said the food bank has started a "Hay for a Day" program that asks people to donate $5. She said that's enough to feed a horse for a day.
The food bank also scheduled giveaways on Saturday and today. The location is kept a secret publicly to prevent someone from stealing stored hay. Lehman said around 1,000 bales of hay remain available, and she's planning more giveaways later this week.
For more information, visit the food bank online at www.horsefoodbank.org, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of a high volume of calls, Lehman asks that you don't contact the food bank by telephone.
Another hay bank, the Hay Bank of Colorado, has not had hay for six months and it's unknown when more will arrive. For more information, contact the hay bank via email at email@example.com.