When Lindsey Crouse moved her family and horse rescue operation from Ramona, Calif., to Sequim, she also brought her Cowboy with her. Standing at 76.5 inches he’s the world’s biggest steer, in contrast to Crouse who is 68 inches tall. Visitors are welcome to drive by to see him at his pasture Serenity Acres Horse Rehabilitation at 123 Ward Lane in Sequim. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

When Lindsey Crouse moved her family and horse rescue operation from Ramona, Calif., to Sequim, she also brought her Cowboy with her. Standing at 76.5 inches he’s the world’s biggest steer, in contrast to Crouse who is 68 inches tall. Visitors are welcome to drive by to see him at his pasture Serenity Acres Horse Rehabilitation at 123 Ward Lane in Sequim. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

HORSEPLAY: Serenity Acres in Sequim a safe place for rescued animals, at-risk youth

WOW! THAT COWBOY is one gigantic hunk of beef!

Currently residing in a pasture off Ward Lane in Sequim, the giant Holstein steer stands 76½ inches tall at his shoulder, making him the tallest cow in the world, a record previously held by a female Holstein cow, now deceased, who stood at 74.8 inches tall (more than 6 feet) at the shoulder. Sadly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the folks at Guinness World Records have yet to travel to Sequim to make it official.

Cowboy is owned and loved by Lindsey Crouse and is the mascot of her nonprofit Serenity Acres Horse Rehabilitation program. For more than 15 years, she’s been adopting injured and retired sports horses, mostly off-the-track thoroughbreds, then rehabilitating, retraining and rehoming them.

Cowboy himself is a rescue. Crouse learned his previous owner had died, and he wasn’t being cared for and severely underweight. Even so, it took a group of people several hours to coax him into a trailer. He now weighs close to a whopping 3,500 pounds.

A fifth-generation Southern California Coast native — I was proud to be a fourth generation — Crouse and her spouse, Ryan Welker, decided to move their family and facility to Sequim in 2019 for similar reasons as mine: The coast had gotten too crowded and too expensive.

Crouse moved her facility to the more affordable inland region, ending up in the desert town of Ramona, a place with no grass and “too hot for all of us,” she said. After an acquaintance invited them to visit Sequim, they decided to move here, literally, to greener pastures.

Regrettably, she had to quit as her job as a sales rep for Horse Guard — there’s already one who has this territory — but she, Ryan and their three daughters — Autumn, Lily and Sage — took a leap of faith and decided to move here with all their critters.

Now Cowboy and his calf companion Lucky are receiving lots of visits from locals, including those from retirement homes, who enjoy getting out of their cars and vans to greet them.

Cowboy loves the attention, and Crouse welcomes the folks who drive by the pasture he’s in at 123 Ward Lane in Sequim. She likens her giant bovine’s personality to that of a big, loveable dog. But knowing that even loveable dogs can get cranky sometimes, she asks everyone to stay outside of his fence. Cowboy is usually happy to approach people at the fence to pose for pictures, especially if visitors come bearing treats, like a carrot or an apple.

When I visited, I didn’t have any treats for Cowboy. Smart boy that he is, he turned his face away almost every time I put my camera to my face to take a picture, as if to tell me, “No treat? No picture.”

Crouse has many success stories to share of her rescues, including Cooper, a talented copper-colored gelding I featured in my Jan. 10 column about Shelby Vaughn at Fox Bell Farms.

Outgoing and vivacious, Crouse cares deeply about all animals, putting a huge amount of time and energy into caring and training them while helping youths from troubled homes through her free therapy programs.

Well-known and well-connected in California, she depended on donations and volunteers to help fund the operation, as well as other volunteers to help nurse injured horses back to good health and start their retraining process.

Race track horses were taught to run fast and run well, but only on a circular track. The majority have a racing career of only two to three years, yet their life expectancy is 25-30. They are intelligent horses who, with a good and patient trainer, often go off to have successful careers in areas such Dressage or hunters and jumpers.

When I moved to Sequim 24 years ago, my first horse was an almost black off-the-track racehorse I bought at an auction in Yelm. At first, he didn’t know how to walk a straight line. Nearly every movement, shadow and sound spooked him as we explored the Cassidy Creek state Department of Natural Resources land and beyond. But, over time, he ended up the best trail horse I’ve owned.

While she said she’s always, “broke, broke, broke,” she feels it’s her mission of sorts to help horses that have been in a sense abandoned, injured and/or neglected when no longer needed at the race track.

Charity

Crouse works part time at Applebee’s. Her husband works full time at Olympic Peninsula Stone Inc. in Carlsborg. Together, they work to pay their family’s expenses.

However, she’s long depended on the generosity of donors to help fund Serenity Acres’ programs. Once a week, she offers free therapy horse rides to at-risk youths and young adults involved in Serenity House’s YES! program for foster children, at-risk youth and young adults ages 12-24.

“I try to do a lot for the kids in our community,” said Crouse, 37. “I had a rough childhood with an alcoholic father, and I went through a lot of bad things in my childhood. I didn’t really have anyone to turn to, but horses and their people were there to help me, so I want to pay that forward and help kids like I was helped.”

She said a lot of the older kids from the program will call me on other days asking just to hang out and help with the horses, which she’s happy to do when they need it. Perhaps, she said, some call because they’re feeling suicidal or having some other issue.

“I’ve actually bought some bus passes so they take a bus here and back home. I’ll pick them up and later take them back to the bus stop,” she said.

Some of the more generous donations include one from Olympic Kiwanis in Port Angeles. They recently donated $300 toward the kids therapy program.

Some choose to sponsor one of her therapy horses, who are permanent residents. Donations help pay for food, veterinary care or any other expense the horse might need.

She also offers free individual lessons for children, asking parents if they might be able to donate a little money for the cause.

“I don’t do this work for profit,” she said. “I volunteer all my time. The donations go to toward caring for the animals and upkeep on the facility.”

Looking for land

Currently, she’s leasing a facility and pastures in Sequim while she looks for property to purchase.

“I’m just so surprised to see how the price of land has spiked up these past two years. It’s almost impossible to find something affordable,” she said. “All I’m looking for is about 5 acres of totally flat land that already has a well. The rest we plan to build ourselves. We have it all planned out; we just need 5 acres of flat land.”

If anyone is thinking of selling their land that meets her requirements, she asks them to contact her at 760-688-9617 or at [email protected]

To learn more about Crouse and Serenity Acres Horse Rehabilitation, visit her on Facebook.

Serenity Acres Horse Rehabilitation is a registered charity, so all donations are tax deductible.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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