We started our rescue in 2012 after learning that many good, use-able horses are kept in less than ideal conditions, and many more are taken to auction for seemingly simple reasons like their owners are not experienced with horses or because the horse has an issue (such as rearing, bucking, or not being obedient under saddle). Our goal is to save as many horses as we can and rehabilitate them for sponsorship, pleasure riding, or adoption to a forever home.
During 2013 we moved from our small ranch in Sunol, to a larger facility in Soquel, Willow Pond Ranch, where we kept our rescue horses and started a kids program & horse boarding all to support our rescue. However it was put up for sale and we were forced to move after only being there a year. We were very fortunate to find another smaller facility only a few miles up the road, just between Los Gatos and Soquel. We are now settled in nicely at the Summit Riders Horseman’s Association Showgrounds, with a wonderful barn and great people!
We consider ourselves to be a part of the natural horsemanship movement although we feel that term has been widely overused. a true “natural horseman” is simply somebody with a goal that listens to the horse, then communicates with the horse to guide the horse to that goal. We feel it is never, ever the horses fault. Yes, horses misbehave and act up, it is a natural part of life to feel rebellious at times. We feel many horse’s issues are due to how they have been treated (or not treated), and/or holes in the foundation of the horse’s training, or a myriad of other aspects from the horse’s past. There is no one “cure” or “fix” for a horse with issues, but we approach the subject with gentleness, leadership, and a desire to help every horse achieve its potential in a happy, healthy environment conducive to rehabilitation.
The Path our Rescues Take:
Most of our rescues have a history of abuse, neglect, and starvation, and they take three main paths before they come to us:
• Starvation: Most of our rescues have been starved at some point in the recent past. Sometimes it is just that the owners don’t know how to properly care for horses, how much and what type of hay to feed, or that horses need a wide array of supplements(like a multivitamin) to survive and thrive. Others have simply run out of money and can’t afford the proper amount of feed anymore, due to the economy, or the rising price of hay and lack of pasture grass in this drought.
• Abuse: Most of our rescues have also been abused in their past. Many of today’s horse-people and trainers still subscribe to the traditional method of horse training, instead of the natural, gentle way that has been brought back into the light of day over the past few decades by people like Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, Monty Roberts, and Pat Parelli. In the traditional way of training, the horse is “broke” by force, using abuse and coercion to break the horse into submission. The trainers “sacked out” horses by tying them to a pole and violently waiving bags around them and whipping them until they stop trying to run away (the horses natural instinct, flight). This process can take hours, or days, where the entire time the horse is in fear for its life, heart racing, drenched in sweat. It is not uncommon for a horse to simply have a heart attack during this process. Other traditional methods include tying a horses legs together and pushing it over and sitting on its side to show it you’re its “leader”. We can’t imagine why people would want to continue to train such magnificent creatures this way, when there is such a better, kinder way of training that creates a lifelong partnership without fear or violence.
•Auctions: Many of our horses have come from auctions. Now this doesn’t sound that bad, especially with what was talked about the previous two situations. However it is not where a horse is auctioned to the highest bidder and then goes off to live its life in green pastures. A livestock auction sells livestock, cows, pigs, goats, and horses, and they all go to the same place: a meat factory. Yes, a law was passed in 2012 to allow meat factory’s in several states to slaughter horses for human consumption. Most of the meat is exported to Europe and Asia, and with a nice profit for the person winning the bid at the auction. I reminded of a quote I once heard: “Not once in cinematic history did the iconic cowboy ride off into the sunset and eat his horse. Americans don’t eat horses.”
Fox Equine Rescue & Rehab is a not for profit 501(c)3 Public Charity registered in the State of California.
Federal Tax ID# 47-5674251