Charlie Renken - Founder and Director
Charlie Renken is a self-proclaimed rescue herself, with a heart of gold and soul filled with compassion. When you combine this with her ability to uplift and motivate humans as well as critters, you can see why founding Ranch Critters Equine Rescue was the logical progression in her life's journey.
Her passion for horses was rekindled when she happened upon a skinny, lanky off-the-track Thoroughbred she named Sonny.
Sonny had been on the track for a short time but was ultimately discarded and left to live out his life as a neglected, has-been horse. When he and Charlie first met, his warm chocolate eyes pleaded for a "do-over" - a second chance to be do something and be something more. So, with hips and ribs showing, hooves that were almost unrecognizable, and a faint flicker of hope and resolve, Sonny became the first Ranch Critter rescue. When he first came home, he could barely walk to the corner and back. Charlie patiently, gently took her time as he healed from the inside out. She shared with him her gift of confidence and hope and over the next several months, the two of them became inseparable. As all rescues, Sonny seemed to know that he had found a haven at the Ranch (which by this time had moved from Cypress, Tx to a larger acreage in Hempstead, Tx.) More importantly, he knew that Charlie would keep him safe and they developed a deep, respectful relationship. The highlights of some of their adventures together include a 20 mile ride around the Hempstead area with Gwen and her horse, Taz; a fantastic ride in the Hempstead Watermelon Parade (Sonny perfected his "parade" walk just for the occasion) and numerous other trail rides in which Sonny never once refused to join in the adventures that Charlie found for the two of them while riding, whether it be crossing streams, bridges or logs! He became the face of the Ranch and to this day his caricature can be found on Ranch Critter's Logo. Unfortunately, as he healed from the inside out, too many of his past injuries resurfaced and began to affect his behavior. Despite our best efforts, the heart wrenching decision had to be made to put Sonny to rest. Sonny impacted all of us in ways that were unexpected and brought to consciousness that "if not us, then who; if not me and you, right now is the time to do something, if not now, then when will we see an end to all this pain. It's not enough to do nothing, it's time for us to do something" (Do Something by Matthew West).
Sonny lit the fire that burns in Charlie's heart. He is the reason that Ranch Critter Equine Rescue has helped over 400 horses find a new lease on life. Charlie is the catalyst that moves our efforts at the Ranch forward. Every critter that comes through our gates, whether two legged or four legged, will feel her energy and her desire as she lives her motto, "Be blessed to be a blessing."
Gwen Murphy- Founder and Director
Gwen Murphy grew up in a rural area of Wyoming (wait...isn't the entire state of Wyoming rural?) and her experience with horses goes like this....
Every spring her dad and uncle would catch the horses, saddle them up, "buck 'em out", move a small herd of cows and then turn them over to her and her cousins. The ride away from the barn was always uneventful but the ride back was more like the Kentucky derby as the horses ran back to the barn.
Her second experience was with her Grandpa's aged horse "Danny Boy" who would tolerate whatever the dozen plus grandkids would throw at him. Danny Boy was also well remembered for his horribly rough trot!!!
As Gwen sees it:
So when we brought Sonny home, I really had no idea what to expect or do! What I have received from the horses is a thousand fold what I have given any one of them. Each rescue has touched my soul and shown me exactly who and what I am (which is sometimes a very difficult thing to take in).
They have each opened their hearts to me and shared their story. I am not ashamed to admit that I have laughed and cried with each and every horse that has come to Ranch Critters and I have celebrated the second chance successes they have each had. What I have learned from our horses is that life happens and we move on. Resiliency, forgiveness and acceptance of self...that's what these so called useless animals have taught me.
They connect with my emotions; they ground me and they accept me no matter what - we claim no judgment on either side of our friendship. So, when the crack of dawn comes, or rain, or freezing temps or stifling heat, how can I not hear their collective call in the morning for breakfast? How can I not take the time to talk with each one in the morning? They give so much and expect so little. Why do I do what I do at Ranch Critters? Simply put...I love our horses...I love all horses.
Especially my Spanish mustang - Dream, who continues to delight and frustrate me each and every day! Ok...more delight than frustration.