In some ways, it was a typical farm and livestock auction, like many that take place on any given day, anywhere in the country. But this one at Rubin Livestock, in Monticello, NY, in some ways, turned out to be very different.

The auction had bidders on pins and needles and at times, in tears with fears that the horses they’d worked with for years would fall into the wrong hands.

In the end, all 34 of the horses found loving homes thanks to the staff and supporters of the shuttered Pinegrove Ranch in Kerhonkson, NY, which closed after its owner passed away. Upon closing last month, the worry was what will happen to the herd? Workers and guests had a strong connection to the horses they had come to love.

Scott Lewis
Credit: Scott Lewis Think Stock

As assets were taken for auction, so were the horses. They were loaded on trailers and taken away without notice. At a public auction, anyone can attend and buy, including the “kill buyers” who sell horses to slaughterhouses. There was only one thing to do.

The employees of Pinegrove, with Mike Offner at the helm along with some dedicated guests, started a GoFundMe page to save the horses, and a Facebook page to keep everyone informed and working toward a common goal.

Some other private donations came in, and one by one, the horses were purchased at the auction. Some were placed privately in forever homes beforehand with help of the donated money. It's a good thing, because as it turns out, according to local horse enthusiast, Randy Mills, an auction attendee, and several others, there were at least three (probably more) kill buyers on site trying to make purchases who were all shut out.

Local businesses donated trailoring, others offered services at cost to help out anyone who needed, as they stepped up to buy a horse for transport to a loving home. As each horse came up for auction, Team Pinegrove kept bidding them up, and it really was a team effort! Mike Offner, creator of the GoFundMe page, says he personally knows where every horse is, and is personally able to keep in touch with each of the owners.

The horses fetched more money than they would have in any other auction, because the goal was to make these horses unaffordable to the kill buyers, and they did. All horses made their way to safety, thanks to the incredible people who guided them. It was a passionate group effort involving lots of prayers and divine intervention. It’s a story that has horse lovers feeling great!

By the way, donations are still sought to help with the costs of keeping the horses in their forever homes.

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