In 2010, while working as a prison guard, Darell Wollert sustained severe injuries when he had to restrain an inmate and a serious fight ensued. During the altercation, he tore muscles in his right leg and left shoulder and had to have both his hip and knee joints replaced on his right leg. He now walks with an impaired gait and a significant limp.
In addition to his full-time job as a prison guard, Darell and his late wife bred, showed, and sold horses all over the country. His late wife had a dream turned passion project of setting up a unique service for traveling ranchers, cowboys and horse wranglers: A horse hotel. After his wife’s death and his medical retirement from his job as a prison guard, Darell began in earnest to establish the “Nine H Quarter Horse & Paints Horse Motel.”
Because of Darell’s physical injuries, running the ranch had become increasingly difficult. He was referred to the Colorado AgrAbility Project (CAP) by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to assist him in ways that would allow him to remain working in the Agriculture field.
Darell’s ultimate goal (besides the horse hotel!) was to improve his overall functioning around the buildings, fields, and the ranch as a whole. The AgrAbility program helped Darell establish processes and methods in order to improve livestock handling related to feeding methods, health care waste removal, and building sanitation and care.
With over 90 acres of property and pastureland, the AgrAbility program worked with Darell and the DVR on consulting and research, and provided recommendations to determine what would need to be purchased to help Darell achieve his goal of turning his place into one of the few horse hotels in Colorado. Complete with an indoor riding arena and 15 stalls, he also has a roping chute and cow tack, three outdoor round pens, a hot walker, wash rack, and access to scenic riding trails that showcase the beauty Colorado has to offer. In fact, Darell and his horse motel were recently highlighted by the La Junta Chamber of Commerce and recognized as an up-and-coming business in the area.
Through the assistance of the CAP and in working in collaboration of the DVR, Darell has been able to obtain a UTV that helps him address his limited mobility issues. He’s also been approved to obtain a powered wheelbarrow, manure vacuum, and numerous handheld aids to provide him much needed assistance in his day-to-day work functions. He also received a hearing exam and will be receiving recommended hearing aids.
Like many other businesses, the horse hotel has been hit hard by COVID-19 with so many events, rodeos, stock shows, horseshows, etc. being canceled. The AgrAbility Project has also been able to assist Darell with marketing and business organizational issues in order to keep his newly formed business running smoothly.
Darell shared with the AgrAbility staff that he has greatly benefited from his working relationships with the program. Through their and DVR’s assistance, he anticipates working independently for a very long time!
Do you know someone that will be traveling through the area with their horse and will need a place to stop? Or are you interested in stopping by to look at the ranch itself? You can visit 9H Quarter Horses & Paints at: 116 Vine St. La Junta, CO 81050. You can also contact Darell directly via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, he’d love to hear from you!
Have you or someone you know benefitted from a Goodwill of Colorado program? We’d love to hear about it! Send us an email at email@example.com.
Thanks to the Colorado AgrAbility program, a unique partnership between Goodwill, Colorado State University Extension Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colorado farmers and ranchers can continue working, despite a long-term illness, permanent injury, aging issues or other physical challenges. This critical collaboration promotes independence for agriculture workers by providing direct assistance, technological support and education to address and overcome their functional limitations.