Collapsed roof, two broken arms and back surgery are latest hurdles for operators of West Fargo rescue
After opening a rescue to take in neglected, abandoned or unwanted horses in 2020, the Faulkner family has been hit by a string of misfortunes — ranging from broken bones to a collapsed building.
WEST FARGO — Nowadays, when Rob Faulkner walks through the barn that once housed the family’s animals, the only sound he can hear is metal creaking and the wind whistling through the cavernous hole where there used to be a roof.
“It sounds like an abandoned western town. It’s awful,” says Rob who, along with wife, Connie, runs the Pride and Joy Rescue northwest of West Fargo.
Last weekend, the roof of their barn buckled under the weight of this winter's heavy snowfall, leaving countless rescued goats, horses, ponies, chickens, cats and other assorted animals literally without a roof over their heads.
Yet it’s only the latest in a string of misfortunes which have plagued their family in the last six months.
The Faulkners appeared in The Forum in September, when I profiled their quest to provide a sanctuary for horses who were destined to be slaughtered due to age, injury or the fact that their owners no longer wanted them.
Unfortunately, some recent health issues have complicated the physical demands of their rescue work. After years of manual labor took a toll on his back, Rob had to get surgery on two discs and a compressed nerve. He was laid up for weeks after, so Connie had to take up some of the slack.
This is especially striking when you realize Connie was recovering from two broken arms. Earlier in the fall, the family was doing fall cleanup of their farmyard. They had just pulled out some shrubs when Connie tripped on one of the roots.
“I went for a flying run, and basically, our truck stopped us. I hit our truck,” she says. “Everyone thinks I’m klutzy, but I think the thing is, I’m always moving. If you’re always doing something, then you’re more prone to something happening.”
She fractured the elbow and wrist on her right hand and completely shattered her left hand. Connie underwent nearly four hours of surgery, which included implanting a temporary metal spacer and a permanent metal plate into her hand. She is still undergoing physical therapy.
“I can move my fingers, but I still can’t make a complete fist. I don’t know if I ever will,” she says.
And now, another blow. The barn, which the Faulkners estimate was built in the 1960s or ‘70s, includes a riding arena, tackle room and multiple stalls for animals. After they had spent Thursday taking care of a horse with colic, they learned Friday that two-thirds of their barn's roof had caved in, likely crushed under the 13 inches of wet, heavy snow from the Feb. 28 storm.
“The building is so big there’s no way to get on top to get the snow off. The roof on that thing is 20-30 feet up,” Connie says.
No one was hurt, but the accident has thrown a monkey wrench into pretty much everything — from the farm’s usual schedule of training and feeding protocols to their riding classes.
Another rescue, It’s a Dream, near Glyndon, stepped forward after hearing of their misfortune to offer temporary homes for the goats.
“They are very, very, very, very awesome,” Rob says.
But riding lessons for children have been postponed, Connie says. The horses can no longer be led into their stalls for their nightly ration of grain. The Faulkners rescued eight wild foals from Kansas in February and aren't able to bring them into stalls for halter training. Connie says she’d rather not chase them around the paddock to put halters on them because they are already skittish around humans and chasing them "creates a stressful training.”
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Although it’s been a tough week, Connie’s sense of humor is still intact.
“We have a friend who lives here, and his name is Murphy. And we don’t like him and we try to prevent him and I think the more we try to prevent him, the angrier he’s getting,” she jokes.
For now, the Faulkners are in limbo as they wait to hear the verdict from their insurance carrier. After that, they will know whether the building can be repaired or will need to be completely replaced.
In the meantime, the shelter is accepting donations to help pay their insurance deductible as well as to help with their many vet, feed and hay expenses. You can make a donation via venmo, @prideandjoyrescue, or via PayPal, at email@example.com .
Connie says there also will be a benefit taco dinner at the Harwood Community Center in April. Details are pending.
Despite the many recent setbacks, both say they would never consider closing down the rescue.
“We’ll figure it out,” Connie says. "We have too many little kids who come out here, who have difficult lives, and I don’t want to take that away from them. That’s a thing for Rob and I. One of the reasons we opened this place was not just to save the horses, but to help humans understand what horses can do for them.”