Friends of Horses Rescue and Adoption is a horse rescue center located in Centennial Colorado. This equine rescue got its start back in the nineties when Bill Stiffler picked up over thirty horses that were bound to Colorado State University. Many of the horses out of this first batch were infected with what is commonly known as Strangles in the horse community. Strangles or equine distemper is a contagious upper respiratory tract infection caused by a specific bacterium. After getting these sick horses the proper care, the rescue found the horses reliable and safe new homes.
The rescue was founded in 2001 as a 501(c)(3) not for profit, and has expanded to include community service, therapeutic riding, education, and rehabilitating abandoned, abused, unwanted, neglected or slaughter-bound horses. In 2002 their dreams became a reality when they got the opportunity to consolidate FOHRRA from five different barn locations into one facility they’ve called home for the last 16 years (the former El Jebel Stables). Friends of Horses currently occupies the ten acres of land equipped with an indoor riding facility. The rescue’s proximity to Cherry Creek State Park is ideal; it is only steps away from a sprawling prairie surrounding eight hundred and eighty acres of reservoir. What makes Friends of Horses Rescue and Adoption unique, among the horse rescue community, is that horses not only come from owner surrenders, but they are rescued off the track Thoroughbred racehorses doomed for euthanasia, as well as horses bought from slaughter auctions throughout the USA, commonly called killer sales, in which horses are sold by the pound and sent to be slaughtered for their meat. The rescue’s horses are cared for, rehabilitated, and trained in order to find their future forever homes. Friends of Horses is dedicated to finding the best fit possible for their horses. Some horses are adopted out as potential show horses for both the Western and English rings, trail and packing horses, companion animals, lesson horses, cattle horses, etc.
Friends of Horses Rescue and Adoption offers a number of community activities such as riding lessons, pony camps, equine educational programs, fulfillment of service hours for school scholarships or court dictated hours. Coming up again this June, the rescue will be offering their eight weeks of summer camp for children ages seven through thirteen. Summer camp activities include grooming, education on various riding disciplines, anatomy of the horse, horse breeds, equine equipment, tacking up and caring for horses, riding instruction, art projects, gardening and more. Friends of Horses also has structured programs to help redirect troubled youths, keeping them out of detention centers and potentially dangerous situations. In Bill Stiffler’s light-hearted humor, he refers to this as “aroma therapy”—shoveling manure, cleaning stalls, feeding/watering horses, and keeping up with overall facility maintenance. This is an important facet of the rescue as it continues to better the greater community of Denver, giving youth direction, teaching work ethic and dedication.