TERMINAL CANCER, ALZHEIMER’S disease, a car accident, sudden unemployment or a death in the family are all unexpected life-changing events that could result in a horse becoming neglected and in need of a rescue.
As human hardships seem to be the most prominent reason why horses become starving or neglected, Olympic Peninsula Equine Network’s (OPEN) founders, Diane Royall and Valerie Jackson, have taken on the motto “Horses and Humanity.”
“We’ve come to appreciate that every horse rescued once belonged to a human,” Royall said.
“So their stories are just as much about the humans they were with as it is the horses.”
In the past 30 days, nine more horses and two mini-donkeys were taken in by OPEN after their owners experienced such calamity.
Six were rescued within four days.
Two came in skin and bones — literally starving to death — after their owner, who has worsening Alzheimer’s disease, forgot to feed them.
“Just today, we rescued some people who needed help with their horses,” Royall said.
“Like most of us, they thought they would care for their animals until the end of their lives. Due to unforeseen circumstances, their lives changed and they could no longer care for their animals. It could happen to anyone, really.”
After the animals are rehabilitated and evaluated, they will be available for adoption.
Chloe is an Arab mix who stands about 14.3 hands.
She arrived at OPEN in 2012 as a starved and neglected 2-year-old.
She spent a year out in the pasture recovering.
Then she received training by professionals who volunteered their time, with the second even using her as a lesson horse for several months.
She was adopted but was returned after the family sold their home.
“Their situation is a good example of our adoption contract. The horse will be yours, but if things change, we will always take them back,” Jackson said.
Royall and Jackson spend countless hours both on the phone and in person helping those in need.
While they appear to be tireless, it’s got to be a daunting task.
The rescue operation is in itself a full-time job, and yet they are doing this in addition to their jobs, families and animals.
Personally, I don’t know how they do it. Just the emotional aspect would exhaust me.
Physically? I’m tired just thinking about it.
I’d love to see more folks from the community step in to help, at least with the daily chores such as picking up manure, grooming and feeding.
And financially? I know I couldn’t do it.
I don’t see those two falling under the “I’m so rich I’ve got money to burn” category, either.
Yep, to help at this level, they rely on donations from the good public to survive.
Currently, they receive no financial aid from the county after taking in horses that were seized via court order or asked to help by a law officer.
I wonder if they can become under contract with the county similar to what the humane society has when rescuing dogs and cats?
Both are services most citizens take for granted as already provided by the county.
So how can we help?
Through volunteering our time with the mundane tasks, working with the animals, providing a foster home or giving monetary donations to help pay for feed, hoof trimming and veterinary care.
For the past two years, OPEN has held fundraisers to help with costs and to build needed structures.
Two years ago, they built horse shelters with attached runs. Last year, they erected a hay barn.
On Saturday, July 1, OPEN is hosting its annual Summer Tack Sale & Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Located at 251 Roupe Road off Hooker Road in Sequim, they hope to raise enough funds to build a little on-site office/storage unit.
Let it be known that because more people are using the Miller Peninsula trail system, park rangers are now enforcing the All Dogs on Leash at All Times rule.
The fine for a dog off leash is $98.
• Patterned Speed Horse Game show — 9:30 a.m. today at Quarter Moon Ranch, 832 Spath Road in Carlsborg.
Contact Waynora Martin at 360-683-6902 for more information.
• Joe Wolter clinic — Aug. 11-13 at Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road, Agnew.
For more information, call Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897, visit Freedom Farm or go to its website at www.freedom-farm.net.
• Back Country Horsemen Sallstrom Ranch ride — Rideout at 10 a.m. Aug. 19 on the Olympic Discovery Trail Adventure Route. A potluck will follow at 278 Dunmire Road in Joyce.
For more information, call hostess Margaret Sallstrom at 360-928-3770.
• Ride the Hill — Aug. 25-27 at Layton Hill Horse Camp, 2514 Chicken Coop Road in Sequim.
Register by Aug. 10.
For more information, contact Anna Sage Neal at 425-737-7404 or annas [email protected]
For general camping information, contact Judy Sage at 360-775-6500.
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 write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.