Nebraska Rescue Story
Around 3:00 PM on Tuesday, April 21st, we were contacted about a huge horse rescue that was about to proceed in Nebraska. We were asked if we knew of anyone that could assist in loading the wild mustangs. Jason and Tawnee felt they could really help out, so they began a flurry of phone calls to find people to care for the rescue in their absence. They also contacted long time NorCal volunteer Deb to find out if she would be willing to accompany the rescue effort. Jason and Tawnee felt that having another qualified person on the scene would be a tremendous help, and Deb is one of the most qualified person around. NorCal staff were up late getting everything situated at the rescue and didn’t manage to get to bed until well past midnight.

3:00 AM found Jason, Tawnee and Deb leaving the rescue for the long trip.

The road was amazingly empty at that time of day, and their progress to the airport was unhindered.

They arrived at the airport, made multiple notes of where the truck was parked and headed in to get their boarding passes.

It seemed like they were dreaming, were they really at the airport, were they really heading to Nebraska? Yes, the backpacks were heavy, yes the boarding passes printed out with their names on them, they really were off.

Jason took advantage of the free wireless Internet at the airport and got some work done.

There were long lines to get checked in, but they were wise enough to do electronic tickets and only had carry-on’s, so there was no waiting in the long ticket counter line.

Around 6:00 AM they were boarding onto the airplane for the short flight to Denver, CO.

It was a full flight and they were all separated in different parts of the airplane. Tawnee’s seat was between two large guys who snored the entire trip.

The snow capped mountains were quite beautiful with the early morning sun reflecting off of them.

The flight was very uneventful and around 9:30 AM Wed morning they were taxing up to the terminal at Denver International Airport.

It was nice to be able to stretch their legs and soon they were off the airplane.

They were glad they only had carry-on’s as the sign said “You are here, but your luggage is in Pittsburgh!”

The first horse they came in contact with was a huge picture plastered on wall.

Denver’s airport is quite large and it took a lot of walking to get where they needed to go.

And there was the train shuttle.

And then the shuttle bus.

Then finally they arrived at the rental place and rented a car. This was the first mistake, a car. If you are called to rescue horses, go ahead and spend the extra $$ and get an SUV or a truck. More on that later.

The car was quite nice and soon they were checked in and on their way.

Then they were off on the 5 hour drive.
It was over 250 miles from the airport to where the horses needed help. Everyone on the team had less than 3 hours of sleep since Tuesday morning, and no one really wanted to drive.

They finally arrived at the fairgrounds where the horses were going to be moved to.

The first load of horses arrived and soon we were in the line of vehicles heading out to help with the second load. If you notice there are trucks and SUV’s, no other little rental cars.

Mile after mile of sandy dirt roads stretched on and on.

We kept seeing signs for 3-Strikes Ranch, so we knew we were on the right road, but it just seemed to be endless.

The road got worse and worse, and soon it was nothing more than deep sand.

But, we finally arrived at the 3-Strike ranch, oddly enough there was a noose hanging from the entry way sign.

We got our first glimpse of the situation. Channel 9 was there doing a news story, click here to see it. Due to the ongoing investigation we cannot show you pictures of the horses, the ranch, etc. Click here to see footage on Channel 9’s website.

After a long day, they were on the road once again. This time to a restaurant to finally get some food and then to the hotel to finally get some sleep.

The waiter was extremely talented and soon dozens of plates of food were coming out to feed the hungry crowed.
It was a good thing they had taken the laptop, as they were able to keep the blog updated and Cathy (fuglyhorseoftheday.blogspot.com) was there, but her luggage did not make it including her laptop. It probably ended up in Pittsburgh. She posted on her blog from our laptop Wed evening. By the time everyone was done it was well after midnight.

Thursday morning they ate a quick bite at the motel breakfast bar.

NorCal team headed out to try to get some more horse trailer and truck’s to move horses. There could not be enough trailers, there were a lot of horses that needed to be safely moved.

They visited a local feed store to ask around.

But the best resource was the University of Nebraska Agriculture Extension office.

They were very helpful and started writing down a list of phone numbers that could prove to be useful.

Once they had a good list of phone numbers they stopped by the local grocery store to get some snacks and drink for the day. They had no idea how many hours they would be working and they did not want to be caught unprepared!

Back at the hotel there was a briefing where safety and procedures were discussed in depth. All of the volunteers were gathered, jobs were assigned, and everyone headed out to their designated jobs. Tawnee gave the list of phone #’s to the team leader, who passed it on to the person in charge of trailers.

Large horse trailers were starting to line up, ready to move horses in need.

Then it was back out the long, nasty road.

Since so many volunteers were heading out, they all parked the cars far away from the horses and crammed into a SUV for the rest of the way.

Everyone worked extremely hard that day and by nightfall almost all of the horses were off the ranch and to safety. There were two different loading teams, our team worked with Jill Starr from Lifesavers, a horse rescue / sanctuary from southern California. She was great to work with, and NorCal’s team would be honored to work with her in the future. It was definitely challenging loading so many horses, every horse had to be documented for the police report, color, marking, and sex. Night had fallen and it was time to call it a day.

Back at the hotel, everyone had rosey red faces from being in the sun all day. Cathy, from Fuglyhorseoftheday, was a valuable member of the loading team. She really knows horses, some people think she just sits around all day and writes on her blog, but we saw first hand that she knows what she is doing. Once again it was past midnight before NorCal’s team was able to get some sleep. Some decisions had to be made, and it was decided that Deb would stay behind to continue volunteering. Jason and Tawnee had to get back to the rescue, as they had not scheduled help for longer than they had already planned.

Friday morning, around 4:00 am, Jason and Tawnee packed up and headed out.

It was still dark, and everyone was extremely sleepy.

The dark road just kept stretching on and on…

But then, a faint glimmer of daylight started to brighten on the eastern sky.

While you’re driving 250 miles through Nebraska there is really not a whole lot to see, other than the excitement of seeing the occasional hill, and maybe a bulletin board announcing the annual mouse race. One town, however, they will remember for the rest of their lives. The town’s name is “Gurly…”

…”Home of the Warriors.” Would that really be “Gurly Warriors?”

Finally they arrived at the rental car place, and soon Jason and Tawnee were on the shuttle bus to the airport. Inside the mammoth maze known as Denver International Airport they managed to get boarding passes.

A quick ride in the train and they were at the gate.

While waiting near the gate, Tawnee looked down at her boots and realized they needed a good shining.

She had never had her boots shined before, but there is always a first time.

The shoe shine also doubled as a well deserved foot massage. At least on the top part of the foot, but anything helps after being on your feet for so many hours. In the nice comfy chair it seemed too good to be true.

Tawnee’s boots turned out so well that Jason just had to spend the $5 to get his done as well.

Soon they both had sparkling shiny boots, better than the first day they had bought them. These boots have carried them more places than can be counted, through more manure and mud than anyone cares to admit, and the boots deserved a good conditioning job.

Finally they were on the airplane to Sacramento. They had a total of 12 hours or so of sleep since Tuesday morning, and it was now Friday morning, and they were looking forward to sleeping on the plane. They slept quite soundly until the pilot announced “We are now beginning our finale decent.” They lifted up the window cover and looked out, quite bewildered. A vast desert spread below, not the green California landscape they had left just a few days before.

But, the plane was landing and there was nothing they could do about it.

Click the play button below or click here to open the video in a new window. Tawnee explains what happened.


Soon they were back in the air for the flight to Sacramento. They all slept most of the way, and on the finale decent the beautiful Sacramento valley was plain to see.

It was really nice to be back on the ground once again.

The drive back to the rescue was hard with the limited amount of sleep they had had in the last few days.

Soon they were almost back to the rescue. The rescue is back a dirt road, but at least it is nicely graveled.
It was nice for them to be back with the horses at the rescue once again. It was an amazing trip, and the entire NorCal team was thrilled to be a part of it. It was great working with so many amazing people in the rescue world, coming together to help horses in need.

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