VCNB Senior Business Banker Sue Ross proves that real heroes don’t wear capes. Sometimes they wear their business suits to the office and muck boots after work. That’s because the veteran banker has spent the last twenty years rescuing horses in her free time.
Many customers know Sue as the friendly banker at our Grove City branch. What they may not realize is that she and her husband Donald have what she calls a five acre ranchette where they care for rescued horses. Just this winter, they took in Waylon, an elderly horse who Sue wasn’t sure would even survive. Today, he is bright eyed with a strong will to live. He’s the fourteenth horse that Sue has rescued.
Sue grew up around horses on her family’s hundred acre farm but she spent many years without any horses in her life. “When 9/11 happened, it occurred to me that life is too short. I looked in the mirror and asked what I enjoy doing and what would make me happier. I’m most happy and content with horses.”
Around the same time, she read about the Last Chance Corral, an Athens based organization that offers a safe haven for rescued horses and orphaned foals. “I read about them and said I want to do that! I wanted to rescue a foal!” she exclaimed.
Since then, she has rescued seven foals. “I just love them. Babies are like kittens and puppies. You can run with them and play with them,” she explained. “They’re so much fun.”
When Sue heard about Waylon, she already had three horses in her care but felt compelled to help this elderly gent who was living in rural Ross County without shelter, enough to eat or even a tree to provide protection. She said his owner, though well meaning, lacked the resources to give Waylon the care he needed.
His feet badly needed attention and his teeth were all either missing or broken after at least seven years of neglected dental health. He was emaciated, coming in at about 400 pounds underweight for a horse of his age and stature.
She rescued him on the same day the ice storm hit Ohio, headed up Route 104 with Waylon in tow, just as the sleet began. She set to work, employing all the tricks in the book she had learned over her years of dealing with neglected horses. She credits her vet for providing top notch care, a healthy diet designed to help him gain weight, and much one-on-one attention for his gradual turn around.
Extra care is taken to give Waylon plenty of time to eat his special blend of hay and grains, adapting the routine of the other three horses to make sure Waylon can be included in their activities. He gets other allowances like a heated water bucket, more frequent brushing, a blanket and more frequent stall cleaning because he goes more than the others. “The other horses just look and I’m sure they’re wondering why that old man is getting all the attention,” she laughed.
“Our horses are like pets. They have big balls to play with and they all have distinct personalities,” she said as she began describing one that is particularly skilled at using his nose like fingers to unlock stall doors or to grab the clothing of his humans. “Ask them if they are ready to eat dinner and they’ll answer! They’ll carry buckets even when you don’t want them to and they love to play. They’re just a lot of fun. Like 1,000 pound dogs” she said.
For anyone interested in owning a horse, Sue warns that they are a rather costly investment, with monthly feeding/farrier/worming/vaccines topping out at around $200 for an average horse. She gets up at 5:30 or earlier to clean stalls and feed everyone before work. Then it’s the same routine in the evenings to clean and feed again. She credits a friend who is sponsoring Waylon to help offset some of his costs.
She also recommends visiting Last Chance Corral to get involved in their rescue efforts and to learn more about horses. She has worked with the Ohio ASPCA and touts them as great resources for information and for helping abused, neglected and abandoned animals.
Sue said she has no illusions that this elderly horse will live many more years but that won’t stop her from giving him her all. “He’s my baby and I know that nothing lasts forever but I can be sure he has a full belly and will be loved for as long as he’s here,” she said. “I hope that he makes it to spring and gets to lay out in the sun. Horses love to sunbathe and I want that for him, to soak in the sun with a full belly and knowing that he’s safe and loved.”