what happened to Paco should never happen...
This is a photo of Paco after his arrival to our farm on June 8th, 2009. He was close to 300 pounds underweight, dangerously dehydrated and suffering from Azoturia, a life threatening metabolic illness that is caused by factors such as excessive grain, electrolyte imbalances due to dehydration, excessive workloads and more. He was on lease to a facility that offers Hippotherapy in Binghamton, and was ridden in a Special Olympics competition in this condition just 2 days before, which is when we discovered his abuse. We brought him back home to recover and rehabilitate with Katie and Dumplin'. While he did recover, he never regained 100% soundness. Paco was a horse of a lifetime, kind, gentle, and a dream come true for those of us who work to bring the soul of horse to the humans in need. It is a cruel betrayal of any horse to be subject to harm, over work, starvation and dehydration. But to us, it is the ultimate cruelty to allow it to happen under the guise of therapy, of happiness, of human-equine partnerships.
Paco was humanely euthanized on Father's Day 2012. His loss is still felt to this day. Paco was a cherished and beloved part of our family, and this program, and he will never be forgotten. And each day, with each horse, we carry out our promise to him. No horse will be abandoned at the end of their service, no horse will be treated like they are second to the client, and no horse will experience anything less than kindness, compassion, and respect. With an incredible team of Veterinarians, Hoof Rehabilitation Specialists, and Alternative Veterinary Medical Professionals, we do our best to offer horses with special needs a home for life, a new beginning...sanctuary.
epona farm sanctuary foundation
We expanded our reach in 2014, and formed The Epona Farm Sanctuary Foundation to promote equine welfare, and humane and ethical horsemanship through educational programming her at the farm, and through community outreach. We have a simple mission, to help horses and humans live healthy, and happily. We want to connect people and horses, and help them learn from one another, while bringing trust, kindness, compassion, and joy into their lives. The foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
education and outreach
Our primary mission is to connect horses and humans together, to learn from each other and enrich each others lives. We do this through hands on educational opportunities for children and adults of all abilities. While learning to care for the team of horses and the farm, they learn about themselves, about life, and about living a compassionate, purpose filled existence. They will become experienced, caring and knowledgeable horse people who help give back to the community, and to horses in need.
assistance for distressed horse owners
We are an organization that strives to help horses before they need help. Our experience shows that the majority of horses who end up at risk, are not direct castoff's of uncaring, abusive people. They are just big expensive creatures that someone cannot afford, or doesn't understand how to care for properly. This is a situation that is growing exponentially too, fueled by social media. People with good hearts are taking in horses they feel sorry for, without the knowledge, finances or ability to properly care for them. We cannot count the number of calls we have gotten from people who suddenly find themselves unemployed, and the first thing they think of is how they cannot afford their horse. Often, it is just a short term situation, that is rectified within a couple of weeks. These horse owners rest easy at night knowing their horses are safe with them, and cared for. And instead of us having to fundraise for thousands of dollars to save, trailer and rehab a horse, we spend 4 hours of our time, and about $50 for hay and grain to hold them over until they get back on their feet. Other owners may have a horse that turns out to be anything but the plodding old senior horses they thought they were getting. We help them with safe, humane training, education, and referrals. And if they need it, we help with rehoming the horse.
The component that makes this all work, is trust. Owners trust us to work with them personally, to get to know them. To trust that they will be respected for reaching out for help, not publicly shamed or ridiculed. We trust that the horse owners will make informed, thoughtful and honest decisions regarding their situation, the horse, and their futures together. Together we create a plan that is best for everyone, but especially the horse.
If you would like to join us in the cooperative effort to assist horse owners in need, please contact us. Volunteers and helpers offer to assist in many ways, from sharing a few bales of hay or a bag of grain, donating hoof care, giving their time to help correct a training issue, or just being a helpful hand to someone recovering from illness or injury. It is always your choice to help in whatever way you feel you can.
horse rescue and foster program
We wish we could help every horse, but the reality of that, while heartbreaking, is that we cannot. We don't believe in "fly by the seat of your pants" rescue, we believe in finding the best home for life. We feel that is irresponsible to the horse to gamble with its future, so we don't fundraise for auction pulls, and so on. When an organization takes a horse, then has to immediately fundraise for it (usually with threats of shipping to slaughter, or other horrible fate attached), they are really in no position to save a horse in the first place.
In our humane education programs, we teach responsibility, planning for the future, planning for emergencies. But it isn't something that we just teach, it is the way we operate ourselves. Because of careful planning, we are able to ensure that our horses always have what they need. You'll see our fundraising activities are most active in the fall and during the holidays and early in the year, and this is so we can provide for the horses in the year to come. This is difficult, time consuming, and far less emotionally charged that pleas of constant doom. But it is the way responsible animal caretakers, both personal and organizational, provide for the animals they have pledged to care for.
At this time we are unable to accept any horses into our program. And it may be quite some time before we are able to. The average cost to bring in a horse, provide rehabilitation, retraining, and find it the best possible new life is approximately $7800 for a year. When space and budget allow us to, our priority is to provide new beginnings for retiring Thoroughbred racehorses through our Excelsior Thoroughbred Advancement Program. The OTTB will housed with one of our exceptional Thoroughbred retraining partners, and will become part of our programming during its year with us. Once training is complete, the horse will first be considered for permanent placement within our programming, or the horse will be placed in a carefully vetted new home, with preference given to a 501c3 equine therapy program. To ensure the lifetime safety of the horse, it is guaranteed a home for life with the Epona Program.
On occasion we will utilize foster homes for horses in need of our help. Foster homes must provide extensive references, proof of insurance, and complete a financial and criminal background check. Foster homes will be responsible for the day to day care and feeding of the horse they are caring for (these expenses are tax deductible), and Epona will provide routine veterinary care and any rehabilitative care that may be required.
slaughter is not the answer
The quote below is an excellent summary of how we feel about the slaughter of horses. By working together, on a personal, respectful, educated level, we can come to solutions that protect our nations horses. This is the foundation of our advocacy.
"From the time a horse is picked up by the killer buyer he is meat on the hoof, and that is the way he is treated. In a journey which can take days, or occasionally weeks, he is jammed into trucks, often where he cannot even stand, and left to fend for himself among a load of other terrified horses. Some of these horses actually have fractures and are in great pain. USDA regulations state that they can go 28 hours without food and water (bad enough) and even this is unenforceable. When the horse reaches the slaughterhouse, death is by captive bolt, and if anyone thinks this always works the first time, we have a film they should see. As a veterinarian I realize the inevitability of euthanasia in certain cases, but to equate the slaughter process with humane euthanasia is the height of hypocrisy."
- John K. Griggs, DVM