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A Way Forward
One northeastern Oklahoma ranch is making the future better for equine residents.
By Katrina Hine
Published July/August 2018
Annika Wilson, left, helps Terry Way, whose compassion for horses has saved thousands of lives. PHOTOGRAPH BY LORI DUCKWORTH
Abuse, neglect, and abandonment have no boundaries: They affect animals and humans alike. These tragic stories can sometimes lead to inaction or even antipathy, but certain individuals see pain as a call to action, a challenge to confront by digging in deep and leaping into the fray. Terry Way, his wife Carol, and their youngest son Jakob are of the latter variety, so in 2011, at a friend’s suggestion, they started the nonprofit Way’s Ranch Association in Quapaw to rescue unwanted horses.
Although Way had horses as a child, he was unprepared for the degree of neglect the rescue would encounter. During the rescue’s first year, one thousand horses passed through this small acreage, and thousands more have done the same since with the help of a small network of nearby foster homes. Way credits veterinarian Lonnie Jay, of the Veterinary Center in nearby Miami, for providing him pointers whenever a horse came in with complex health issues.
“Everyone in the community told us we were stupid, because there wasn’t a need,” Way says. “Even Dr. Jay first thought there wasn’t a need, but his opinion changed when he saw what law enforcement had to deal with.”
Rural agencies have little money to handle large animal cases—an annual county budget of $922 could be wiped out with one case. Way’s Ranch partners with local law enforcement by taking endangered horses, handling the expenses related to their care, such as transport, vet bills, food, and sometimes, when a horse is suffering, euthanasia.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for what someone did to their own animals,” Way says.
Rescues are not government-funded, so securing donations and foster homes are the rescue’s primary concerns. To combat costs, Way has partnered with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe to use its rodeo arena for events and programming like riding lessons, play days, and equine-assisted therapy sessions. Doing fundraisers like pony birthday parties and rides on a miniature train—which Way’s uncle built—also helps.
But the Ways’ most important mission is working to create a better future for horses and the people who care for them: educating the public about the plight of neglected horses, how horses help hurting people heal, basic horsemanship skills, and common courtesy.
“It’s humans helping horses, horses helping humans,” Way says. “They’re both getting satisfaction out of it.”
To find more information about donating to or volunteering for Way’s Ranch Association, call (559) 563-0107 or visit facebook.com/wayshorserescue.