Inflation hitting Norco horse rescue

Norco and horses are inseparable and the Sunshine and Daydreams (S&D) ranch has been a part of the community for years, rescuing older horses headed to out-of-state slaughterhouses and rehabilitating them to either find them new homes, or light work at the ranch. 

The income from lessons and riverbed rides was enough to finance the rescue and live on, at least until the wrath of inflation.

Her costs for everything, from hay to shoeing supplies, have gone up by as much as 30%. 

At the same time, her customer base has diminished dramatically. Even her regulars are saying that despite pretty reasonable rates, taking the family out on a trail ride along the riverbed, or signing up for beginner lessons is not on top of the list. 

"It would break my heart to see this place go away," said one S&D employee, holding back tears.

It’s not only the family-like atmosphere but the genuine concern that if the ranch folds, hundreds of more horses will end up in out-of-state slaughterhouses.

While killing horses for meat is illegal in California, there is a thriving business in selling older animals to out-of-state slaughterhouses, for export to countries where horse meat is a regular staple.

S&D gets many of their horses (80 in the last three years) from feed lots, where the animals are "fattened" up before being sold for meat. 

"Up until now, we’ve been able to take care of the business, 100%, but the economy is killing us," said owner Sonja Trefethen. 

As one of the few trail ride programs with draft horses (known for sweet dispositions and their huge sizes, that can carry riders weighing more than 200 pounds) they’ve been a great draw for first-time riders. Riverbed trail rides range between $60 and $75 for an hour, a little more for a draft horse. 

"I can’t raise my prices, but I can’t keep going like this," said Sonja, who doesn’t want to lay off employees who feel like family, stop saving horses from slaughter or giving people. (many of them from Los Angeles urban areas, who have never been close to a horse, let alone ride one) the opportunity to interact with these amazing animals.

She needs more customers, yes, but can’t wait for the economy to turn around, so S&D setting up a Gofundme page to help with the rescues. 

For information about trail rides and other programs, you can reach S & D ranch at