At Eyes That Smile

At Eyes That Smile

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ HORSEPLAY COLUMN: Eyes That Smile rescues neglected horses

SADLY, IN THIS difficult economy, the number of abused, abandoned and neglected horses has reached an all-time high.

The good news on the Olympic Peninsula is we have Eyes That Smile, an equine rescue organization that cares for, fosters and helps find new homes for those once unwanted, abused or surrendered horses.

“Often times, we get horses simply because the main caretaker has become ill or passed away,” said Brian Pettijohn, co-founder and board of director of Eyes That Smile, or ETS.

“Those horses have been well-cared for all their lives and just in need of a new home.”

In the past 18 months, ETS has taken in, fed and re-homed 140 horses. Some horses in their care also are in need of veterinarian care and medication, and all require farrier work.

Having horses myself, I know how expensive it can be to feed and care for one horse, let alone 140.

I asked Brian how they could afford it.

“We have a lot of wonderful volunteers who give of their time and money, but we depend on, and are very much in need of, donations to help us

cover the costs,” he said, emphasizing Eyes that Smile is a legal nonprofit 501(c)(3) rescue organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

One horse eats about two bales of hay a week, at a cost of $6 to $18 (depending on time of year and availability).

During the summer months, they have people willing to foster horses in their grassy pastures. They don’t have that luxury in the winter months, so more donations are needed, large or small, to help pay for feed.

Eyes That Smile also relies on its members and others to provide foster homes.

It’s very much a growing organization filling a much needed gap for re-homing horses, so the organization is very much in need of a permanent home where they can build a large barn to store hay and an indoor arena to evaluate and train the horses.

“We have an eye on some property now we’re hoping to purchase. It’s just a question of raising the funds, which we’re working on,” says Brian.


Experienced trainers help evaluate the horses and ready them for adoption.

Some, too old to be ridden, are placed in homes as pasture pets.

Others come to ETS old enough to be ridden but never trained.

Some horses require experienced riders, while others arrive well-broken and ready for the novice rider.

The cost of adopting is minimal and helps to cover costs.

The group has many stories of successful and happy adoptions.


Those waiting for their new forever homes include:

■ Max, a 20-year-old registered fox trotter gelding that moves easily off the leg, experienced in lateral work and jumping;

■ Tomara, about 27, has a sweet disposition and was once used regularly as a lesson pony for children;

■ Stetson, 9, a 16.2 hand thoroughbred used for trail riding;

■ Adar, 10, is a healthy and smart black Arabian gelding whose yet to be trained.

For a complete list of horses available or for more information, phone Brian at 360-45704677 or visit the website or email

Send donations to Eyes That Smile, P.O. Box 252, Sequim, WA 98382.

TV star

In case you haven’t heard, our very own Jessica Holmberg is one of the stars of “Rodeo Girls,” a new reality TV show on A&E network.

It follows five barrel racers — all beautiful with different levels of experience — as they make their way along the pro-rodeo circuit.

Airing Thursday nights, Jessica plays a newbie to the professional circuit.

As pre-teens Jessica and my niece, Brooke Stromberg, were best buddies and barrel racing competitors.

Jess’s mom, Deb Holmberg, and I had a blast hauling those girls and their horses to BRN4D barrel races across the state.

Last week’s show featured Jess introducing Deb to Anthony — a young man she meets on the show — during a work break at a Port Angeles grocery store.

I called Deb to share my excitement. After reminiscing, she said Jess, who was picked after answering an open casting call two years ago, was having a “lot of fun” doing the show.

She’s very proud and happy for Jess for “living her dream of becoming a professional barrel racer.”

Way to go Jess!


■ Tuesday, Jan 21, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Jefferson Equestrian Association Horse Park update and annual general meeting. American Legion, 209 Monroe St., Port Townsend.

Everyone is invited.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. Or write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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