Photos courtesy of R&R Ranch
R&R Ranch is situated on nearly 23 beautifully wooded acres in Chesterfield, MO. The home was built in 2015, and the barn was completed the following spring of 2016. Animals residing at R&R Ranch include four dogs, one cat, six birds, one bunny, 11 miniature horses, two miniature donkeys, and two full-size horses. Because miniature horses are small by nature, they are able to comfortably share a stall with another mini.
A Mini Horse Mission
R&R Ranch’s mission is to increase public awareness of miniature horses and educate people on the proper treatment and care required when owning one. This mission is incredibly important because there is a strong trend right now where people often objectify them as cutesy, kids’ toys.
This thought process ultimately leads to miniature horses needlessly suffering due to neglect once an owner no longer wants to do the work necessary to care for the horse. Even worse, the cycle continues and spreads as uneducated owners breed these horses, even though they may mean well. If people are aware of the needs of these special little horses, the lives of so many owners and horses could be greatly improved.
We sat down with Stacy Rothberg-Rolfe, who along with her husband founded and owns R&R Ranch, to learn more about their social media famous farm!
How did you get involved with horses originally?
It all happened quite by accident, actually. When we found our piece of property to build our home on, we had enough room to add a barn. The intent was to bring my daughter’s first pony and first horse home to live with us.
Where did the ranch get its name from?
R&R Ranch is a combination of my and my husband’s last names. It depends on who you ask as to whomever’s last name is said first. So, I always say it stands for Rothberg & Rolfe Ranch, and of course, to my husband, it’s Rolfe & Rothberg Ranch
How did you get started with the mini horses?
While we were planning our cute little 2 or 3 stall barn, my daughter, Belle, said to me, “Mom, we should get a miniature horse” to which I replied, “Yes, we should, that would be so much fun!” And, lo and behold, she found a little bonded pair on Craigslist that were about six hours away from us. We bought them and here’s the kicker. They were only two years old and we were their fourth owner. What?? Why had these horses gone from hand to hand so many times in just two short years?
That’s when we quickly learned that so many of these little guys have very little value placed upon them. They are often sold, end up at auctions, given away for free, or left to survive on their own, neglected in random fields.
Can you talk about the challenges dwarf miniature horses might face and the tools required to deal with them?
Dwarf miniature horses face a lot of challenges in their little lives. There are many different types of dwarfism and they all produce different setbacks within each horse. Some dwarfs have oddly shaped bodies, very barreled abdomens, or roached backs, they may have oversized heads, their legs are commonly twisted, their organs are often squished inside their body, respiratory issues, teeth are usually a problem with being misaligned or they may have bulging eyes.
It is essential to their health and well-being, that they are given proper medical care by equine vets who have experience with treating them – not all equine vets are willing or able to treat them. So, finding one that can care for them and will do so, can be a challenge. You also need to have an exceptional farrier who knows how to work on their feet, do corrective trims, and know how to put on extensions when necessary.
What’s a particular part of rescue that you feel like people either don’t know a lot about or don’t talk enough about?
Honestly, there is a lot of misconceptions about miniature horses in the first place. More often than not, people think they are going to be fun to have because they are so cute. This couldn’t be farther than the truth! I mean they are indeed fun to have, but they are also a lot of work. I strongly believe they are more work than full size horses, which we have as well. And, another thing that people don’t realize is that they are not a “starter” horse for your child.
Most children are already too big for them by the time they want to learn how to ride a horse. For example, any horse, no matter what the size, can safely carry 20% of its body weight, which includes its tack. So, if you have a small miniature horse that weighs 200 lbs. you’re talking a 40 lb child could ride it – without tack!
One of our minis came from a pony ride situation, so we have the saddle that was used on him for his 18 years of work life. His saddle weighs 19 lbs alone! He weighs only 215 lbs so he can roughly carry a 20 lb child when you throw a child up on his saddle. That’s a huge takeaway that parents, grandparents, and kids learn when they come to visit the Ranch.
Can the “healed” minis be adopted, and if so, how?
We are actually a 501c3 sanctuary. This means that when a horse comes to live with us, it has a home for life.
On the days that you want to quit, what keeps you going?
Oh goodness, I think everyone has those days where you are either so busy you don’t know how to juggle one more thing, or maybe everything is going wrong, but if you try, which is what I do, to keep it in perspective, and know that tomorrow is a new day, it helps to keep your day grounded. These horses come here for lifelong support. and that’s exactly what we give them.
What are your plans for the ranch in the future?
Our plans are to keep doing what we’re doing. We share stories of our horses, babies as we call them, on our social media. This gives the general public a better understanding to know what a horse has been through and how they can recover both physically and spiritually from any trauma that’s happened in their life. We believe it is our job to share these stories on their behalf to help spread awareness. We are an educational barn and we have no plans of ever changing that.
What else would you like to share?
Our social media reaches hundreds of thousands of people all over this world. It gives us so much hope and peace when our fans reach out to us and tell us that they saw a horse that looks neglected and they reached out to the ASPCA or they will ask me how to respond to something they see on social media of a person too big riding a mini and want to know what to say. We see our education is working. We know that we are but a small dot in this universe, but, we do see tiny ripple effects of people learning and becoming more aware of what is right and what is wrong, and that gives us great peace.
To learn more about R&R Ranch, visit https://www.randrranchminis.com/.