Willie Nelson is more than just a country star – to many horses, he’s also a hero! The 87-year-old, along with his wife, Annie, once rescued a herd of American paint horses who were destined for a slaughterhouse. Now, with over 70 horses living on his ranch, the initial idea of finding them new homes seems to be long forgotten. (2)
The over 70 horses roam free on Nelson’s 700-acre ranch in Texas Hill Country, aptly named ‘Luck Ranch’. Nelson told Paul Venema from KSAT 12 News ‘When you’re here, you’re in Luck, and when you’re not, you’re out of Luck’ and this is very appropriate for the rescued equines. The horses have been rescued over several years and live together on the ranch approximately 30 miles from Austin. There’s plenty of open space for them to run around freely and they live a life of luxury. (1)
Nelson spends most of his free time at the Texan ranch when he’s not on the road. ‘My horses are probably the luckiest horses in the world,’ Nelson said. ‘They get hand-fed twice a day, and they were just ready to go to slaughter is probably the last thing they remembered, so they’re happy horses.’ (1)
In 2015, Willie Nelson won an award for the video to his song ‘The Love of Horses.’ The video shows Nelson meeting members of Habitat for Horses who were trying to end the slaughter of horses for their meat by working to get new legislation passed. ‘Horses are what brought this country together. It’s what we all rode in on’ says Nelson, speaking of his support for horses’ rights. (3, 4)
Not only is Nelson extremely passionate about horses and their rights, but he’s also got his entire family on board. His sons and daughters all work with him to rescue as many horses as possible and to fight for animal rights. They’re all equally passionate about ending the slaughter of horses as well as working for new legislation.
Animal Rights Groups
Willie Nelson has worked with a number of animal rights groups over the years. He even performed a concert for the Animal Welfare Institute on his 80th birthday with proceeds going to help end horse slaughter. Speaking of the other organization Nelson works with he says ‘Habitat for Horses is a great organization. They’ve helped a lot and I’ve worked with them a lot.’ Habitat for Horses is who he and his family rely on to help rehome the rehabilitated horses from his range. Although, Nelson is never in a rush to get them rehomed. ‘I think I’ve got 73 now, that I’ve collected over the years. About ten or fifteen of them are my own horses that I ride. But the rest of them are rescue horses.’ said Nelson of his herd. (4)
On retirement, Nelson says ‘I retire after every show. I say, ‘That’s it, I’m not goin’ no more,’ but then we hang out awhile and people (his band) feel like playing, and so we go play again.’ Even with seventy horses under his care, it looks like retirement isn’t on the cards for a long while for the almost 90-year-old country star. (1)
It’s so lovely to see someone doing what they can to help rescue animals. It’s especially impressive that specifically horses are being rescued as they are notoriously expensive to care for. If you’d like to help, don’t forget that even if you can’t afford to rescue an animal, there are many charities and organizations that could use your support. You can volunteer your time or donate money and be part of the cause!