Friday, August 4, 2023

Volunteers & Walmart build a shelter.


Volunteers and Walmart collaborate to build a shelter for a rescued horse

·         By Merri Taylor Special to the Independent 

·         Aug 2, 2023 White Mountain Independent Newspaper

Equine WellBeing Rescue recently received a $1,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation and the Taylor Walmart store. The funds were used to buy many of the materials needed to construct a shelter for a blind orphaned colt that was found wandering alone in the Petrified Forest last year.

Petrified Forest employees contacted Christine Griffin, founder of Equine WellBeing Rescue, for help. Griffin jumped into action.

“He was emaciated and extremely dehydrated,” she said. “That’s why he was wobbling around so much. He probably would have perished, especially if he hadn’t shown up at the machine shop there; he would have just died out in the out in the wild.” The colt, named Forest, is nearly a year old now and is thriving at the Rescue, east of Snowflake.

“We did a DNA test on Forest and he turns out to be half quarter horse, half Rocky Mountain horse mix, which could mean that somebody probably dumped him,” Griffin said. “There aren’t really herds of this DNA in the Petrified Forest; once in a while other horses may come in. We consider him an orphan because he wasn’t with his mother or the herd may have culled him because of his health condition, or he just couldn’t keep up, we’ll never know.”

On July 25, volunteers gathered to build a shelter for Forest and his new companion, Shooter.

“We couldn’t put Forest in with our herd because of his blindness, so we ended up purchasing a colt that was close to the same age as him and already had training,” Griffin said. “He was of a gentle demeanor and his feet could be trimmed and things of that nature. We went to Colorado and got him in February.

“Then we made an enclosure that’s a little over 30 feet wide by 280 feet long, so that they both have room to run. Even with his limited eyesight, Forest has really good perception of his surroundings, so he does run and play like a typical colt his age.

“We were so excited to work side-by-side with the volunteers on this project. We thought that we really should build a shelter for Shooter and Forest. That way, if we’re not here, or a storm comes up, the monsoons come up, at least they can get into the shelter or if we can’t get them into the barn.”

Griffin explained that one of their volunteers, who works at Walmart, found out about the Volunteerism Always Pays program, which provides grants to eligible organizations when Walmart or Sam’s Club associates volunteer. The program encourages full and part-time employees to volunteer their time to various non-profits in their local communities.

“Her supervisor at Walmart knew that she volunteered here, so they said let’s do a volunteer program out there. So when they contacted us, it had just coincided with a grant request that we had made separate from that. It kind of all happened at the same time,” Griffin said.

Forest does fairly well despite having essentially no vision, Griffin said. “He actually was paying attention to the noises going on during the construction; some of it was really noisy, they were using drills and things. By the time we put it together, he could smell the new wood. So he walked right over to where the new smell was.

“The first thing we noticed was him walking over sniffing the wood, so he went inside and sniffed the wood all the way around inside and out. That’s how he learns where something new is. Also, he realized he was in shade, because of the difference in the temperature.”

Considering the size of a horse’s ears, it’s no surprise hearing is important to Forest’s understanding of his world and his new shelter. “The shelter has a tin roof, so the first time it rained, it was different because it was noisy,” Griffin said. “Even though Shooter was inside, he wasn’t sure about going inside with the noise. The barn also has a tin roof, so once he gets used to that, then it won’t matter at all. I do see him going in for the shade. They do have a juniper tree and he loves to stand in the shade of the juniper tree.”

Walmart also sent the rescue a $75 gift card to purchase flowers and soil for their Memory Garden. “Walmart volunteers, along with our volunteers, cleaned up that whole area and planted the new flowers,” Griffin said. “They did an awesome job. We really appreciate the support from the Taylor Walmart. Justin Johnson is the manager there and we appreciate him and his employees and their support of the rescue.”

Griffin added that there were 22 hours of preparation time for the shelter build, with a total of 69 volunteer hours. She said, “We have a lot of really wonderful volunteers. I always want to give them credit, because they do come here and volunteer their time and its much appreciated.”

Forest with Shooter behind, taking shelter from the rain.

To learn more about the rescue or to make a donation, visit, call (760) 703-4860, or email To learn more about Walmart’s Volunteerism Always Pays program, go to

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