PHOTOS: Gay-run Ranch Hand Rescue receives 6 beaten and neglected horses

Bob Williams, the gay CEO of Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle, sends along word that the rescue recently received six horses that were beaten and neglected in Garza County.

Two of the horses are critical and near death, according to Williams. Garza County authorities sent the horses to Ranch Hand because it is known for its expertise in criminal cases and in critical cases.

“We desperately need to raise awareness about this issue of animal abuse and neglect,” Williams said in a release. “People need to know that we will insist on prosecuting every single case we are involved in to the full extent of the law.”

For more on Ranch Hand Rescue, visit their website or Facebook page. More photos of the horses after the jump.

—  John Wright

My morning-after jacket: Jonathan Adler, my DIFFA coat and me

In tomorrow’s print edition, you can read all about Jonathan Adler, the master potter and decor guru — and partner to Barneys creative director Simon Doonan — who has just opened a new boutique in Uptown, across from the Mitchell Gold+Bob WIlliams store. (We may need to rename the block Oak Lawn East.) The interview was fun in part because I showed up to it dressed in a piece of clothing Adler would certainly recognize: The smoking jacket he designed and donated to DIFFA this year, for which I made the winning bid.

After the jump you’ll see him reunited for the first (and probably last) time, Adler and his fine Chinese silk dinner coat … and me … plus a few more shots from our photo shoot.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Everybody loves Doris

Billy Bob's owner Pam Minick, Ranch Hand Rescue founder Bob Williams and actress Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts (Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond) was in Fort Worth over the weekend helping raise money for Ranch Hand Rescue, the gay-owned farm-animal rescue ranch in Argyle. A dinner at Billy Bob’s Texas on Saturday, Nov. 19, raised money to purchase a new trailer for Midnite, a miniature horse that came to RHR with a missing hoof and coffin bone.

After Prostheticare in Fort Worth fitted Midnite with an artificial hoof, he immediately got up and started running. As word about Midnite spread, RHR owner Bob Williams began getting emails from children facing limb amputations who wanted to meet the horse.

Williams has taken Midnite to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Oak Lawn several times to interact with children facing loss of a leg. Mayor Annise Parker brought Midnite to Houston to help inaugurate a new park and playground designed for children with disabilities. Williams said the requests have been pouring in. Alcohol and drug rehab, autistic, children with AIDS and wounded veterans groups have all come to interact with Midnite.

To help Williams transport Midnite more safely than in the larger horse trailer, Roberts headlined an event at Billy Bob’s Texas. Owner Pam Minick donated the facility and dinner. Additional money raised from the evening will help close the budget gap for the year. During the drought in Texas this year, hay has become especially expensive.

Roberts, who won three Emmy Awards for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond and one for her role in Remington Steele, said she held Midnite’s head to her chest and that despite the abuse the horse had lived through, he gave unconditional love.

She has known Williams for years and he credits her with saving his life. When he was having a stroke, she realized he was not well and rushed him to the hospital. She called Williams one of her closest friends and said she was delighted to help with the organization that rescues abused animals, presses for prosecution of the perpetrators of violence and abuse against these animals and uses these rescued animals to help heal and give hope to so many people who interact with them.

—  David Taffet

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—  Kevin Thomas

Rodeo holds fundraiser for Ranch Hand Rescue

Top: Honey Boy in June, shortly after his rescue. Bottom: Honey Boy in September after gaining 300 pounds.

The Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth on Friday, Sept. 23 will benefit Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle. Proceeds from the rodeo will go toward the purchase of hay and feed for the gay-run farm animal rescue organization. The rodeo takes place at 121 E. Exchange Ave. in the Stockyards north of Downtown Fort Worth.

Midnite, a miniature horse that was rescued last year and fitted with a prosthetic leg, will be on hand at the Stockyards Rodeo. Midnite has inspired children who have had amputations and visited places such as Scottish Rite Hospital in Oak Lawn and a new park for children with disabilities in Houston. He’s the subject of an upcoming segment on Animal Planet.

The rescue organization takes in a variety of farm animals including horses, goats, sheep, alpacas and llamas that have been starved and abused. Owner Bob Williams works with law enforcement on confiscations of abused animals but will only take them if law enforcement prosecutes.

He said Denton County is very aggressive about pursuing animal abuse charges but some rural counties in Texas are not.

Williams said that Honey Boy, a horse seized from a property in Brownwood, is doing extremely well and has gained 300 pounds since his rescue in June. Here’s the original story about Honey Boy. Williams said the heat slowed his growth because he didn’t eat as much as he would have in cooler weather. Plus, he’s missing quite a few teeth. He still has 200 to 400 more pounds to gain.

“His color darkens as he gets healthy and loses all the bad hair,” Williams said. “He has settled in nicely. He knows he is safe and part of our family.”

To donate to ranch Hand Rescue directly, go here.

—  David Taffet

Moving animals from hardship to happy endings


SIX MILLION DOLLAR HORSE | Veterinarian Marty Polasko holds Midnite’s reigns while two representatives from ProsthetiCare look on and Animal Planet’s Mike Marshall films. (Dallas Voice/David Taffet). Horse that was starved and locked in stall for up to two years makes happy adjustment at Argyle’s Ranch Hand Rescue, while mini horse Midnite is becoming a media darling



DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

ARGYLE — The work at Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle has gotten national attention since Midnite, an abused and handicapped miniature horse, was fitted with a prosthetic hoof.

“Midnite has become an ambassador for the ranch,” said Bob Williams, president of the gay-owned and operated rescue.

Mike Marshall of Animal Planet’s Pets 101 flew in from Boston last week to film Midnite and talk to some of the people he has affected. The segment should air this fall.
Midnite arrived at the ranch last year after being seized by law enforcement.

“Here’s a horse that would have been euthanized,” Williams said.

He was either born without a left rear coffin bone and hoof or lost it in an attack early in life.

“Midnite had no muscle strength, was malnourished, was beaten, would cower,” Williams said. “It took him two weeks to come near us.”

Lane Farr of ProsthetiCare in Fort Worth made the prosthetic for the horse. He was at Ranch Hand Rescue for the taping. He said the first time he put the limb on Midnite the horse was bucking.

“Now he’s so used to it he doesn’t know it’s on,” Farr said.

The only difference between fitting a human and a horse, he said, was that Midnite couldn’t tell him where he was feeling pressure.

“So I reached down with a probe,” he said.

But while Marshall was there to film the uplifting story of the miniature horse with the prosthetic leg, the animals are there because they’ve been rescued from severe starvation and abuse.

One of those is a horse named Honey Boy.

Honey Boy

When Animal Planet visited, Honey Boy was grazing freely for the first time in years in a field just beyond camera range.

Honey Boy was seized several weeks ago from a farm in Brownwood. The horse, which Williams estimates is 28 to 30 years old, had been starved and is about 800 pounds underweight.

Honey Boy’s owner plea-bargained and surrendered the horse. Despite a rule that they will only take animals if law enforcement prosecutes, Williams said he took the horse because officials pleaded that he was in such bad shape, no one else could handle him.

Williams said Denton County is aggressive in its arrests and prosecutions of people who abuse animals. He said that other areas don’t necessarily prosecute.

According to Steve Harris, owner of Steves’ Market and Deli in Brownwood, the abuse of this horse has been going for several years. Neighbors had been calling the sheriff about the animals on the farm since the family that owned Honey Boy and other animals moved to Brownwood.

Joyce Fisher, who lives across the street from the people who owned Honey Boy, said their neighbors moved to Brownwood three years ago with six horses, 18 dogs and no money.

She said only two horses are left on the property and the dogs were taken out into the country and abandoned. One of the six horses died, but Fisher did not know what happened to the others.

She said that not only did Honey Boy not get much food, but also he had no water.

“They didn’t pay their water bill,” she said. “And they wrote bad checks to every vet in the area.”

So the horses got no veterinary care, either.

The former owners will be in court in July, but not on charges of animal abuse. They are facing a number of charges of writing bad checks.

“We really appreciate someone taking care of Honey Boy,” Fisher said.

Last week, Honey Boy was out in the field grazing. Despite having been abused, he walked up to anyone who came into his field, enjoying the love and attention.

Most animals arrive more fearful than Honey Boy is, Williams said.

“We do everything at the animal’s pace,” he said.

One technique Williams uses is holding their heads to his heart several times a day while talking gently to them, reassuring them that they’ll be OK.

“Before you know it, the horse starts to come out of its depression,” he said.

But Honey Boy is showing little sign of depression. Williams said they’re feeding him beets soaked in water every four hours to jumpstart his digestive system. His teeth are mostly gone and he may be blind in one eye. Williams said he doesn’t know how long Honey Boy will live, but he’ll be safe and comfortable for the rest of his life.

Ranch Hand Rescue is limited by space, number of volunteers and money. Other landowners in the area have volunteered their fields. Two horses seized last week are recovering at a nearby ranch under the care of Williams and his partner, veterinarian Marty Polasko.

In the beginning

After suffering a stroke five years ago, Williams decided to retire from corporate life and do something he loved. So he and Polasko, his partner of 24 years, founded Ranch Hand Rescue.

Polasko is a vet and owner of American Pet Spa and Resort, which shares the property with the rescue facility.

When the SPCA takes 70 horses from a ranch, Williams said, he can only take the five that are in the poorest shape. The most abused horses he’s taken at one time is 17.

But he said every seizure is expensive. On-going operating costs mount with every new arrival.

Shep Shepard saw a story online on Dallas Voice about a recent seizure and decided to volunteer. He said he spent most of his first day picking up 100 bales of hay that had been donated by a rancher near Gainesville. That should last about three months.

“It’s a great way to get out of town for the day,” Shepard said.

“They have sheep and rabbits and turtles and goats and llamas and alpacas and each has special dietary needs,” he said. “And they pay staff because there aren’t enough volunteers.”

He said he’d like to hook Ranch Hand Rescue up with someone with new fundraising ideas or who could incorporate the ranch into other fundraisers within the LGBT community.

“The need became obvious when they took in Honey Boy,” Shepard said.

Not only do Williams and Polasko, along with their staff and volunteers, look out for the animals, but the recovered animals seem to look out for each other.

One by one, each of the horses as well as Al, a tall black llama who likes to follow visitors around, went to the fence to see Honey Boy. Each one poked his head through the fence and gently nuzzled the injured horse. They seemed to be telling him he was safe now.

And Angel, a horse that now shows no sign of the abuse and starvation she suffered, seemed to notice that Midnite was out of food in his pen. Williams said Midnite, who arrived emaciated, is getting fat so they’re controlling his diet.

Angel grabbed a mouthful of hay from her bin and walked over to Midnite. She lowered her head so the miniature horse could reach and Midnite had a snack.
And when he was done, Angel brought him a little bit more.

Midnite’s triumph

Before getting his an artificial limb, Midnite struggled for up to 45 minutes to get up.

“Once he put it on and was ready to go, he didn’t want to give it back,” Farr said.

Williams said Midnite got right up and began walking and then started running.

Midnite is kept in a pen while his hip muscles are strengthening. Williams said he’s afraid the horse will start running and break a hip, an injury that couldn’t be repaired.

But Midnite comes out of the pen often to exercise with a trainer. They’re teaching him how to shift his weight.

Williams said he gets dozens of emails about Midnite every day and is in tears reading them.

“A girl who was having her leg amputated visited,” Williams said. After seeing how well Midnite adapted to his new leg, she went through her
own surgery with less fear.

A blind girl came to the ranch and Midnite, who just a few months earlier would cower, let the girl touch him from head to tail.

And he’s become a well-traveled little horse. Midnite has been to Scottish Rite Hospital in Oak Lawn three times already to visit the children having orthopedic surgery and they’re planning another visit soon.

Recently Mayor Annise Parker invited Midnite to Houston for the opening of a new “Playground Without Limits” for handicapped children. Everything in the park, including a swimming pool, is wheelchair accessible. But Midnite was the star attraction.

Among others visiting the ranch and speaking on camera to Marshall about Midnite was Lily, a 13-year-old double-amputee who was also fitted for her legs by Farr.

“I like to walk him around and brush him,” she said. “He’s my friend.”

Williams said he believes Midnite has a special gift.

“When children with special needs meet him, it’s emotional to watch them bond,” Williams told Marshall on camera for Animal Planet.

Even though Midnite is the one getting most of the media attention right now, each of the animals that comes to Ranch Hand Rescue comes with a story. And thanks to the efforts of Williams, Polasko and their employees and volunteers, now those stories have a chance to have a happy ending.

—  John Wright

Gay-run Ranch Hand Rescue receives one of its most critical cases, seeks summer volunteers

Honey Boy

Honey Boy arrived at Ranch Hand Rescue on Thursday night. This Palomino-colored quarterhorse was starved and is quite sick.

“Although very sick he knows he is safe and loved,” said Ranch Hand Rescue president Bob Williams. “The next seven days are critical as we jump-start his digestive system and as we get test results back.”

Williams estimates Honey Boy is 28-30 years old. He has an eye injury and is probably blind in his right eye. He has hip and back issues, and his feet are in bad shape. He’s probably full of parasites and is being wormed. Because he is missing teeth, his food is being ground and soaked and he is being fed a small amount in regular intervals so that he won’t get sick from overeating. Williams said this is one of the most critical cases he has handled.

Ranch Hand Rescue, an LGBT-run farm animal rescue in Argyle, is looking for volunteers  for the summer. Willams said volunteers will learn how to bond with the animals, assisting with chores around the ranch, and brushing and bathing the horses.

Ranch Hand Rescue, a nonprofit, works with law enforcement and the courts to care for animals that have been seized. Ranch Hand is always looking for sponsors for rescued animals and has a wish list of needed items on its website.

The organization has been getting quite a bit of attention lately. The Today Show wanted to fly Midnight to New York to appear on the show. Midnight is the horse that was fitted with a prosthetic foot last year. Williams said he wasn’t sure the horse could handle the trip.

Next week Animal Planet will be at the ranch filming. Williams said he’d let us know when the episode airs.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Gays still at risk for deportation; Ind. marriage ban advances; Midnite goes viral

Midnite and Bob Williams, the gay co-owner of Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. On Tuesday we told you that immigration cases involving bi-national same-sex couples had been put on hold pending the outcome of lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. But officials said later that the delay is only temporary and does not provide an opening for same-sex couples, as existing immigration laws will continue to be enforced. “We have to be very cautious,” Lavi S. Soloway, a lawyer for a bi-national same-sex couple, told The New York Times. He said gay couples should continue to understand that “if they file for immigration status, they may be putting themselves at considerable risk of deportation.”

2. After audience members interrupted the debate with chants of “stop hating, stop dividing, stop pandering,” the Indiana Senate on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that would ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions. The Indianapolis Star reports that in response to the chants, the Senate decided to close a balcony so the public was unable to watch the proceedings. The constitutional amendment, which already passed the House, still must clear another session of the Legislature in 2013 as well as a popular vote.

3. Bob Williams and Marty Polasko, the gay owners of the Ranch Hand Rescue animal rescue operation in Argyle, Texas, have made international news in recent days with the story of Midnite, a miniature horse born with a leg deformity who was neglected but is now running again thanks to a prosthetic leg. Already featured in the UK’s Daily Mail and USA Today, Midnite now gets a close-up from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and below is video from the Associated Press. None of the stories seems to mention that Williams and Polasko are a gay couple, but at least this should help with their fundraising. Congratulations, Bob and Marty — and of course Midnite.

—  John Wright

(Midnite can now go) Walking after midnight


We’ve published stories in Dallas Voice and here on Instant Tea about Ranch Hand Rescue, the gay-owned and -operated animal rescue operation out in Argyle, Texas. Bob Williams and his partner, Marty Polasko, take in animals of all kinds that have been abused and neglected, rehabilitating them and giving them someplace to live out their lives in comfort.

One of the rescue animals was a miniature named Midnite who has been having to navigate on three legs after losing part of his left rear leg to injury. On Sunday, Williams reports, Midnite received a prosthetic leg that allows him to actually run around the ranch.

Midnite came to Ranch Hand Rescue after being seized from his previous owner due to neglect. Williams said Midnite was underweight, malnourished and extremely depressed when he first arrived, in addition to missing a hoof and coffin bone, a condition that would have, under different circumstances, forced officials to euthanize the little horse. Instead, Midnite was moved to Ranch Hand Rescue where his lengthy, and costly, rehabilitation began. After the jump, Williams offers a description of that process:

—  admin

Gay-owned Ranch Hand Rescue continues saving farm animals through brutally cold weather


Ranch Hand Rescue is a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals. They have been removed from their current situation by a county humane officer, sheriff or law enforcement official.

In December, we wrote about a fundraiser for the organization to help owner Bob Williams feed and give the animals the medical care they need. Their goal was $10,000 and they raised more than $15,000.

“The place was packed,” Williams said.

This past week was a particularly difficult one for them because of the cold weather.

“Our animals still need their medications and feeding,” Williams said.

Frozen pipes and additional staff increased costs.

—  David Taffet