Anyone driving on Route 17 may have noticed one of the white county driveway signs: Horse Play Way. The sign says it all.
Changing Fates Equine Rescue – which was originally called Whimsical Equine Rescue, but organizers needed to separate it from the name Whimsical because there is a Whimsical Animal Rescue and they were getting calls about all sorts of animals – is a place for horses to be free and to play, and, in a perfect world, get adopted by a good home.
At a larger farm in Laurel, the non-profit currently has 11 horses waiting to be adopted. At the farm near Roxana, they have two horses waiting to be adopted, one living there in “sanctuary” and some breeders, or horses that belong to owners who rent space there. A sanctuary horse is a horse that is living out its golden years, free from abuse or neglect — but upkeep can get expensive.
“That’s a lot of mouths to feed,” explained Lisa Boyce, who has been with the organization since its inception, as has Karen Speake, the group’s president and founder.
“We’d love to take all the old skinnies, but we can’t,” said Boyce of the older horses, many of which are retired race horses and a few of which end up at their farms.
Besides ex-racers, many horses that they take in are simply underfed or have been neglected in some way. Many times, Boyce said, families will buy a pony for their children while they’re growing up and then, when the kids get bigger, there is no desire to keep the pets anymore, so they either sell or give the horses away.
“Most here just need groceries,” said Boyce of her charges. “They were neglected in some way or are skinny. We have taken in a couple of babies that were going to slaughter,” she added.
After Changing Fates receives a horse, they feed them, get their shots accounted for, and get them dental and health care check-ups. They then assess the general shape they are in, see how they ride and what their capabilities are, take into account their age and, finally, set them up for potential adoption. They are also sure to let potential adopters know the type of commitment owning a horse really is.
“When you buy a horse, they will tell you all the good stuff. When you adopt, we try to tell you everything that’s bad, because we know if we don’t, they’ll just end up back here,” said Boyce.
The group works with both the SPCA and private owners in receiving horses – something they said they started doing because, “There was a need,” Speake said. Both women, who have been avid horse lovers their whole lives, now make the non-profit their full-time job.
Boyce said they would love to have some land donated to the group so they could expand closer to the Roxana-area farm. Right now they lease the land in Laurel, which is another expense for an organization with already high overhead.
Besides adopting a horse or donating on their Web site, (through Paypal, or by traditional methods), Boyce said people who want to help Changing Fates Equine Rescue can sponsor a horse.
For so much money a month, a horse can get its feet done (their hooves need to be trimmed), get shots and medical care, and can eat. For example, it costs $5 for a bale of hay, and each horse eats half a bale a day of hay alone. That’s $2.50 per day per horse for hay, not including the grain horses also eat.
Besides the monetary help, the sponsors can come and visit their sponsored horse and “walk her, groom her and love her,” Boyce said. “It would be a huge help, but we don’t get many takers.”
Boyce said they are also always looking for committed volunteers to help out around the farm. She said it is one thing to ask somebody to groom a horse or ride it, but another to “dip out a stall!”
All donations to the organization are tax-deductible. To learn more about adopting or sponsoring a horse, or to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities, visit http://whimsicalequine.rescuegroups.org online, and it will direct you to Changing Fates Equine Rescue.