This article is about two women who run two 501C3 horse charities who came together and offered horse owners an affordable solution to a situation that was never a problem in a strong economy. In years past, breeding horses was a popular and potentially lucrative endeavor. A good stallion with a proven record could produce a generous income for his owner. Not only racing thoroughbreds, but working cow horses, jumpers, dressage horses, and quality horses intended to carry on breed standards made a good living for their owners simply for their semen. No longer is that the case. As with other species of animals, an intact male is much more difficult to keep. Owners of stallions have had to make the difficult decision to geld, an added cost which some could not afford.
About a year ago I researched an article about Horse rescue in San Diego County. At that time, virtually every rescue organization was full to capacity, looking for foster homes and adopters. Breeding horses with few exceptions is no longer a good idea. Hay has gone from about $18 per bale to around $25 per bale. Feed is high, supplements are high, and water has gone up as well. Adopting a horse takes a special individual, one who knows what it takes to care for, often rehabilitate and train a 1000 lb animal. Boarding a horse is costly, keeping horses at home, if you are so lucky, is back breaking work. Being a lifelong horse lover and one who has been lucky enough to be able to have my horses at home, I believe like many others, it is a worthwhile labor of love. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” is a quote that has been associated to Winston Churchill. The mysterious and powerful connection between horses and humans goes back to the earliest days of recorded history.
Shirley Puga, Executive Director of the National Equine Resource Network (NERN) used to work in the financial industry. Her education is in Accounting and Finance, and that background and way of thinking has resulted in her passion becoming a reality. Puga, spent several years working with Rescue organizations as a volunteer. The NERN website says, “The experiences, the needs, and the stories she (Puga) witnessed and became embroiled in, all led her to want to do more. Her vision for the National Equine Welfare Network (NERN) was borne from this desire to have an even bigger impact on equine welfare.” She put her Finance background to work, NERN raises money that is then uses for various types of grants offered to struggling non profit organizations involved in horse rescue. The most creative program that NERN offers is the Gelding Clinic program. NERN finds willing local Veterinarians who volunteer their time and partners with horse welfare organizations around the state to offer low cost gelding services to stallion owners.
So far, 7 clinics have been held around the state, the most recent was held on December 7, 2011 at Creek Hollow Ranch in Ramona. 13 stallions were gelded, potentially reducing the future horse population by 65 horses since the average stallion sires five horses in his lifetime. Dr. Joe Rosenberg DVM of Paniolo Equine Veterinary Services and Tearsong Equine Athletes, Rescue and Sanctuary (TEARS) partnered with NERN for this event.
TEARS also has a story to tell. In better times, Founder and Executive Directory Karina Benish RVT, CW2 (US Army retired) bred her talented Shire stallions to well bred mares creating talented, athletic warmbloods who were sold their fee and the fee for rescue horses sold went back into the rescue to keep it financially sound. Horses are no longer selling, so now what. Benish accepted a job with PIMA College teaching Veterinary Tech classes, emphasizing on large animals which most of the PIMA students had no experience with. She struck a deal with PIMA offering Tearsong horses for use as a hands on lab for the school. PIMA students have been attending class on Olive Street in Ramona for over a year, learning how to care for and tend to the daily and medical needs of the 20 horses who call Tearsong home. PIMA provides all medical supplies needed by the students, the experience has been life changing for the students and extremely beneficial for the horses. Benish and her team were recently recognized by the Toby Wells Foundation of Poway with a $5,000 grant. The Toby Wells Foundation strives to make a positive and meaningful impact by assisting and working with other non-profit organizations within San Diego County that serve youth, persons with disabilities and animals. Tearsong was a good fit. The horses teach aspiring young college students the lessons of a lifetime. Benish said “I was not expecting anything from Toby Wells Foundation until January,I was running out of hay and money, feeling pretty desperate. I went to the mailbox and there was our check.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
NERN visit – http://nationalequine.org/about.html or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/national.equine
TEARS visit – http://sites.google.com/site/bigshire or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tearsongs-Equine-Athletes-Rescue-and-Sanctuary-TEARS/135650011834
Paniolo Equine Veterinary Services visit – http://www.joerosenbergdvm.com/