Harmony and Hope Horse Haven
Location: Portal, AZ
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 35
During the mid-1990s, owner and breeder Ruth Plenty observed a disturbing trend—that injured, old, or unsuccessful racehorses were loaded onto trailers and sent to auction. It didn’t seem right, so she decided to do something to stem that heartbreaking tide.
Plenty and her husband, Dennis, began rescuing horses whenever and wherever they could, absorbing the cost largely out of pocket, and eventually setting up Harmony and Hope Horse Haven as a sanctuary for ex-racehorses.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” said Ruth Plenty, who performs many of the daily tasks at the 40-acre Pile of Old Rocks Ranch, the home base of Harmony and Hope. “All of our horses are success stories. They came off the track unwanted, with no place to go—but did not end up abandoned or at feedlot auctions. Instead, they spend their days eating, sleeping, and being groomed. They know they have a home—they know contentment.”
At any given time, some 35 horses live in permanent retirement on Plenty’s property, located
2 1/2 hours outside of Tucson, Ariz.; most of them are Thoroughbreds, and several are stallions. According to Plenty, about 90 percent of Harmony and Hope’s lifetime residents earned less than $45,000, many after racing for years.
The current herd ranges in age from 5 to 36, with earnings up to $175,000, the horses having raced in New York, Florida, Washington, California, and Canada. Regardless of racing career, medical issues, or personalities, the horses are provided a lifetime home at Harmony and Hope.
All incoming horses are placed in three-week quarantine, during which they are thoroughly evaluated and any health issues are addressed.
Harmony and Hope has been recognized by Thoroughbred Charities of America, CARMA, and After the Finish Line, as well as being accredited by the TAA.