Blue Apple Ranch Brings At-Risk Animals and Children Together
Founded in 2001 in honor of the late animal lover Toby Wells, the Toby Wells Foundation is a community resource for San Diego’s underserved children and at-risk animals through innovative programs at Blue Apple Ranch (BAR), a 277-acre facility in the western foothills of Ramona. The genesis of BAR was in 2007, when Toby’s parents attended the Kentucky Derby and discovered that many of the losing horses from the race were destined for slaughter. It was then that the family’s mission to save and rehabilitate horses and then connect them with children through specialized programming was born.
The horses that reside at Blue Apple today come from a variety of circumstances, often involving abuse and neglect. Many of the youth that BAR serves come from similar backgrounds. Rescued horses arrive at BAR and undergo an assessment to determine if they are candidates for the training program and adoption. Horses that are not adoptable enter the BAR sanctuary, where they are guaranteed a safe home at the ranch for the rest of their lives.
Non-sanctuary horses become involved with education programs at the ranch. The Work For It internship program, for example, is an intensive 18-week program for at-risk teens ages 14 to 18 from San Pasqual Academy or Abraxas Continuation High School. Interns work alongside BAR staff to gain an understanding of equine care, anatomy, nutrition, basic first aid, CPR, irrigation, gardening, leadership, and life skills.
Blue Apple also offers field trip opportunities with scholarships provided to Title 1 schools in the Poway Unified School District, as well as enriching day camp experiences through its partnerships with local YMCA branches. Even further, BAR hosts a number of special events throughout the year aimed at celebrating and honoring local foster children.
“The most rewarding part of working at Blue Apple is knowing we make a difference,” said Adrienne Wells Holmes. “Knowing we’ve rescued hundreds of horses and have served thousands of children locally with a positive message of kindness, compassion, and responsibility is life-changing.”
The Toby Wells Foundation will host its annual Denim and Diamonds Golf Classic Tournament at Barona Creek Golf Club on Friday, June 2. All proceeds will benefit programs at Blue Apple Ranch. For more information about the foundation and its upcoming event go to www.tobywells.org. To learn more about the ways in which BAR serves the community visit www.blueappleranch.org.