Williston, a city in the northwest part of North Dakota, has long been a ranching and farming area, mixed with an oil industry fueled by the Bakken field. It is in this place that Jennifer and Flint Bibler chose to establish a retirement ranch for equines and other animals. A Rescue and Retirement Ranch (ARRR) provides a crucial safety net in a part of the state where few such resources are available.

One of the horses playing peek-a-boo at ARRR Rescue and Retirement Ranch. Credit: ARRR Rescue and Retirement Ranch

Flint’s family has owned and ranched land in the area for three generations and he was deeded about 80 acres of land. Jennifer is the daughter of a cattle rancher and politician. Both Jennifer and Flint have strong ties to the land but differed from their ancestors in how to use it. “As a vegetarian, I was not interested in running cattle,” said Jennifer. “We both had a love of animals in common, so we thought about what else we could do to reflect that part of us.”

It was decided the 80 acres would become ARRR Ranch and would serve the needs of animals, not people. “It feels like the right thing for us to be doing,” said Jennifer. ARRR provides a welcome refuge for a variety of animals – from chickens to cats, to goats to equines.

The world of non-profit rescues and sanctuaries is small. It is not hard to come across an informal network of rescues that not only know of each other, but also work cooperatively to network animals to safety. That is how Kathy Zweber at Witchtree Training Center learned about ARRR [see HWH blog post The Witchtree Magic]. “There is so much to be done when it comes to rescue. I don’t know if any one place can do it all,” observed Jennifer. And that’s where partnerships can play an important role in helping both the rescue organizations and the animals.

“Kathy and I were introduced by another person involved with rescue,” said Jennifer. After conservations and Facebook messaging they developed a deep respect for the parts each play in keeping equines safe. Witchtree Training Center gives horses training and a second chance, but it is not set up to provide retirement. ARRR is not a training facility, but they have the land and the resources to provide a retirement home. Based on their conversations the decision was made. Kathy Zweber could retire one of her lesson horses to ARRR – a gelding named Chandler. By providing a secure retirement for Chandler, Kathy knows the gelding is in good hands, and the Biblers feel good knowing that Kathy can now give another horse a new lease on life at Witchtree Training Center. ARRR has also taken in a few horses from other rescues; horses that would not likely get adopted. ARRR fills that most critical part in the cycle of horse rescue – the last, best place for equines that are not able to be ridden or worked. A place where they will be cared for, but no demands will be made on them.

Space is something there is plenty of at ARRR Rescue and Retirement Ranch. Credit ARRR

The Biblers have also made plans for ARRR Rescue and Retirement Ranch after they retire. Juan Ramirez, the ranch foreman has been with them from the beginning. A farrier by trade and knowledgeable about every aspect of the ARRR, Juan will carry on their life saving work. In the meantime, ARRR is focused on getting funding together to refurbish the main barn.

Tonight, all the animals at ARRR, including Chandler, have full bellies, veterinary and farrier care, and three people devoted to their well-being. For the Biblers and Juan Ramirez that’s what really matters.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Jennifer, “but there is still more to do.” And that is why Flint continues to dream of having a boat and Jennifer is still waiting for a new porch.

Learn more about ARRR on the web at: http://www.arrr-ranch.org/

You can also follow them on Facebook – @arrr5292gmail

They are also looking for suitable homes for their adoptable cats.