I COULDN’T DO it. I couldn’t continually take in unwanted, vulnerable and big sensitive-eyed horses while depending on donations to help feed and care for them.
Thankfully Valerie Jackson and Diane Royall are two extraordinarily determined, large-hearted and hard-working people who have taken on this herculean task and have done so for 10 years through the Olympic Peninsula Equine Network (OPEN).
So far this year, OPEN has adopted out 23 equines (horses, donkeys and ponies) and placed another six into their Golden Retirement Foster Home program.
What they need most right now is hay.
“We are really going through hay fast and we need more,” Royall said. “Our other concern for this time of year with the holidays is people going out of town and leaving pets and horses with unfamiliar caregivers or leaving them home alone.”
Last week, five large horses got out and were roaming at large.
Sadly, one was killed on the highway after it was hit by a car. Thankfully, there were no human fatalities along with it.
“So there we were, out in the cold with frozen toes waiting for people to come get a horse in the middle of the night,” Royall said.
“We’re glad to help, but for the sake and safety of the people and the animals none of us should be wandering around out on icy roads or through old dilapidated fields with old barbwire strewn all over in the berry bushes and overgrown grass, retrieving a loose horse that could have stayed contained with the electricity on.”
Royall said it boggled her mind when an owner told her that because her horse respects the hot wire fence she felt she no longer needed to turn it on.
Recently I wrote about having to put my beloved Indy down due to injuries sustained after he was hit by a car when someone went through a gate and didn’t close it behind them.
While that was caused by a careless moment the point is accidents do happen.
Which is why it is so important to do what we can to prevent accidents with good fencing and good gate latches.
And for goodness sake, if your perimeter fence is electric then keep it on.
Sadly, many of the horses OPEN takes in have health issues. Many are malnourished and starved; most come in with grossly overgrown hooves. This is a major problem.
Too many people think it’s OK to just to put a horse in their backyard or pasture and nothing more is required.
Guess what … that grass you see in the winter is dormant. It has little to no nourishment. Horses need to be fed hay. Good quality grass hay.
They also need regular hoof trims every eight to 10 weeks by a farrier or someone who knows what they are doing.
Just putting horses out to pasture without providing basic physical needs is cruel. Which is why it is so important to count the cost before bringing a horse or any animal home, especially because this is the time of year for gift giving.
So, please, keep in mind the importance of counting the costs of ownership in advance when I share that OPEN does have some ponies available for adoption if, according to Jackson, the right family comes along.
OPEN’s been collecting items to hold a pre-Christmas tack sale for a final year-end fundraiser, but when the Port Angeles Elks Club asked if OPEN could help with some horse equipment for the victims of the Paradise fire, OPEN donated a three-horse trailer full of halters, lead ropes, buckets, blankets, saddles and various other tack.
Then other equestrians followed suit and added more.
“Add that with items the Elks collected and it became quite a huge gift from Clallam County,” Jackson said.
As fundraising is a constant concern and activity for OPEN, the organization is already planning a dinner, dance and auction for 2019 (to be held again at Fox Bell Celebrations, 137 N. Barr Road in Agnew) and it is looking for volunteers to help with the event.
OPEN also is looking for auction donations and sponsors for the event.
Another way to help out is through OPEN’s Amazon Smile account.
By naming OPEN your charity of choice the organization receives 0.5 percent back on any qualifying purchases.
And if many people donate small amounts it can add up to big numbers for OPEN.
OPEN’s December board meeting also will be a volunteer social potluck at 6:30 p.m., Thursday at Fox Bell Celebrations.
Jackson said “Anyone interested in meeting the members of OPEN or who wants more information on joining our team is welcome to attend.”
OPEN’s gifts from generous, compassionate people allow the organization to rehabilitate horses saved from neglectful, abusive or other at-risk situations.
Please consider donating to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so OPEN can continue helping equines in need.
Contact OPEN by leaving a message at 360-207-1688 or emailing olypen [email protected]
Mail donations to P.O. box 252, Sequim, WA, 98382 or online at olypen equinenet.org.
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.