We were contacted last month about a horse who needed a retirement home- she was a beautiful paint horse who had been owned by a woman who had become too elderly to care for her. She and another gelding were rescued by a woman, and she was able to rehabilitate both horses. She found a home for the gelding, but the mare had an accident at three which caused her to be permanently lame. Although she was comfortable at the walk, she could not be ridden, and needed a retirement facility.
Hanaeleh is not set up as a permanent sanctuary- although we do have horses who we have had to sanctuary because of their physical or emotional issues, we have very limited space, and try to take in horses we can rehabilitate and adopt out if possible. That being said, we do try to help owners find homes for their horses before they come to Hanaeleh by networking them, and we also work with other rescues as well when trying to place horses.
We were able to make a few phone calls and were thankful that Rancho Refugio in Ramona, CA was able to create a place for Jewel. We have a taken a few horses down to Rancho Refugio, including Nevada, who still lives there, and we are always impressed by the exemplary care given to the horses. They are a sanctuary only, and do not adopt out any of their horses.
We offered to take Jewel down to Ramona, and I drove over on Saturday afternoon after finishing taking care of Hanaeleh’s horses. When we got there, Jewel’s owner told me that Jewel was very attached to the gelding with whom she had lived for several years, and she was unsure if Jewel would get into the trailer without him. I was hesitant to take him, as he was older, and it would have been a five or six-hour trailer ride (roundtrip) if he went with us, and I really didn’t want to have to put him through that if I didn’t have to. So we walked both of them up to the trailer, and thankfully after a few minutes Jewel walked right in. I told the person walking the gelding to walk him up to the window so Jewel could see him while I closed up the trailer. Once she was buttoned up in back, I quickly got into the truck and started driving.
Jewel was a bit upset for the first part of the trip, but she finally settled down, which was helpful as we got stuck in traffic going down to Ramona. Luckily it was a relatively cool day, so I was not concerned about Jewel getting too hot in the trailer. It took about three hours to get to Ramona, and I was very happy not only to see Michelle at Rancho Refugio, but also to see a restroom!
We got Jewel out of the trailer without an issue, and while she was attentive and interested to her surroundings, she walked calmly to the stall where she would live. She met the gelding in the next stall, who she would eventually be turned out with in the paddock during the day, and proceeded to investigate her new digs and play in the water. Overall, she settled in quite well.
While the owners and Michelle were talking, I wandered off to say hi to Nevada, who I saw almost immediately when driving up. I whistled to him, and he looked up and walked over to me, a few paint horses in tow. Nevada came to Hanaeleh several years ago. He had been left to starve to death in a backyard, and a neighbor rescued him and put some weight on him, but he needed a rescue situation as Nevada had been physically abused by the Charro riders who had owned him, and needed a lot of rehabilitation to get him to trust people. It took us years before he would trust us with picking up his feet, and Nevada was wary of people in general.
We had him adopted out for a short time, but instead of getting to know Nevada and slowly gaining his trust as we had repeatedly stated, the new owner thought she would ride him after having him for about a week, and he became scared and threw her. She was hurt quite badly, and so called and said she no longer wanted him. When we came to pick him up, he had fresh wounds across his face and neck, and was head shy and fearful again- he had only been gone about two weeks. We were not certain what had happened while no longer in our care, but those two weeks put Nevada back to where he had been two years prior; he could not be tied, he did not want to be touched, and we could not pick up his feet again. We worked with Nevada for several months after, but realized that we needed to find Nevada a retirement home, as we could not in good conscience adopt him out and have him abused yet again.
We were thankful that Rancho Refugio was able to take Nevada, and he has lived out the last three years there in peace. He has the best care, and there is no one demanding anything of him.
I was so happy to see Nevada, and he seemed pretty pleased to see me as well, and let me pet him across his face and neck with no problems. He even took a few selfies with me!
Eventually I had to leave both Nevada and Jewel in order to get back to Hanaeleh, but I was happy to know that they were both safe at Rancho Refugio. One day we hope to have enough land so we can offer pasture areas to horses who need retirement homes, but in the meantime, we are thankful that there are exemplary rescues such as Rancho Refugio who are able to help sanctuary those horses who have nowhere else to go.