By VIVIAN GRANT
A VOICE CALLS OUT from the wilderness of the Arizona desert. It is a voice of compassion, as strong and gentle as the horses she rescues and gives sanctuary to. It is the voice of Karen Pomroy, founder and president of Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary.
EQUINE VOICES RESCUE & SANCTUARY (“Equine Voices”) is located in Southern Arizona at the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. The equine rescue and sanctuary was founded and is run by Karen Pomroy, who named it for her feelings that horses who are “used and abused needed a voice.”
Karen spent several years in California working with a woman helping wild mustangs, and later learned of the plight of the mares and foals used in the production of the menopausal hormone replacement therapy drug, Premarin(R).
I love mustangs but realistically knew to rescue them, a large piece of land would be required, so I decided to reach out to the Premarin(R) (PMU) mare and foals and educate the public about the HRT drug Premarin(R), Prempro(R), Premphase(R). I had two rescues already and saved four PMU foals from an out-of-business PMU farm in North Dakota. I moved to Southern Arizona after I found my small 10 acre ranch in 2004 and relocated our six horses that May.
I felt the need to help these incredible animals that have served the pharmaceutical giants, the farmers and women for years. Although so much attention has been placed on the issue (after the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative Study linking these drugs to cancer, blood clots, dementia and much more), I felt more needed to be done to spread the truth.
The PMU babies were eleven months old and were the beginning and the reason why Equine Voices emerged. Gulliver, one of these foals was considered ‘big and ugly.’ However, this gentle giant has become our mascot and is the ‘voice for the voiceless’ educating the public about the ‘by-products’ of the industry, namely its ‘unwanted’ mares and foals. In February 2005 we became a 501(c)(3).
Gulliver has grown into a smart, handsome horse, and is an impressive mascot indeed. Gulliver is the horse in the circular photograph on the Equine Voices’ website, in artistic form on the website’s masthead, and featured in the organization’s gift shop.
PMU mares can be challenging because of their history and mistreatment, and the babies are usually wild. We have a great team and some very skilled individuals who help train the horses. Carol Grubb, a local trainer who is on our advisory board. Anna Twinney, again, [is] an incredible advisory board member and natural horsemanship trainer. Several volunteers and our ranch manager all help with getting the horses over their fear of humans.
As of this writing, the team as Equine Voices have successfully helped more than 240 horses, and have 37 at ranch. They are also sponsoring five pregnant mares in Canada, and fostering four starvation cases in Tucson.
One of Karen’s favorite success stories centers around a pregnant mare called Lilly who was headed for slaughter. Lilly arrived at Equine Voices in the Fall of 2007. Karen tells the rest of the story.
Lilly is a gorgeous palomino draft cross and was completely wild and unmanageable. She had her filly Charisma, and 36 hours after her filly was born, Lilly’s placenta still had not completely expelled. We could not touch her. We had several volunteers at the sanctuary at the time, and we all visualized the placenta leaving the mare. I went inside, and it wasn’t five minutes later she expelled the entire placenta and thankfully she was okay.
Lilly and Charisma were adopted by a family (Grandma, daughter and grandkids) after the family took one look at them and knew they could give them a great home. It was love at first sight, and the unconditional love this family was willing to give the horses was amazing. Today, they have taught Lilly to wear a halter and lead. Charisma has always been a love, as she has never known abuse or anger. Their lives have changed and so have they changed the lives of the family members who adopted them.
Karen and her staff at Equine Voices have seen a lot of heartbreaking cases, intervening in situations they had no idea existed. Karen explains:
After we rescued the four original PMU babies, in 2004 we rescued 15 Pony Skin foals. All were 1-2 months old, and arrived with severe cases of strangles and were very ill. One died, but the others pulled through and have been adopted.
I asked Karen what the first word, image or thought that runs through her mind when I say “horse.”
Unconditional love and a herd of horses running free in an open field as they are meant to do.
I then asked her who the most influential horse in her life has been?
My horse Brave Spirit. I rescued him from slaughter 7 1/2 years ago. He was the man that got me back into horses and led me to the wild horse sanctuary where I learned about non-profit work. He’s taught me so much about leadership, compassion, trust and forgiveness. He currently lives with Gulliver and the main herd at the sanctuary.
Although Equine Voices remains firmly focused on helping PMU mares and foals, in light of the recent economy with so many horses needing help, Karen and her organization have taken in and placed starvation cases, horses that have come from livestock, and horses abandoned in the desert.
We have a blind pony that was going to be shot by his previous owner. We also help those who are at the highest risk of going to slaughter.
Rescuing horses, as rewarding as it is, costs a lot of money and takes a lot of hard work. Karen gives these words of advice to anyone considering starting up an equine rescue or sanctuary,
Make sure you do your homework, and if you commit don’t ever give up. No matter how hard the work is, it is a way of life, and if you give your heart to a horse, they will give back their entire soul.
At the top of Karen’s wish list for Equine Voices is 500 acres and a celebrity spokesperson “who really believes in what we are doing.”
If you have acreage you would like to donate to this highly worthy cause, please contact Karen through the Equine Voices website at www.equinevoices.org. Celebrities, have your people contact her people to get started!
You can also make a cash donation online via Paypal or automatic withdrawal, or by sending a donation in the mail. If you would like to make a donation with your credit card over the phone, they can do that too.
There is also their fantastic gift shop that features the aforementioned Gulliver embroidered on a wide range of apparel, artwork, boots, jewelry, bookmarks, Anna Twinney’s dvd’s, and more.
Equine Voices’ next fundraiser is set for March 14, 2009 at Brandi Fenton Park in Tucson, AZ. from 11:30-3:30. They will have a horse program, carriage rides, food, silent and live auctions, and a raffle. Plus, Gulliver under saddle. Karen adds:
This is so exciting. We’ve watched him grow up. Now at the age of 5, we hope to ride him at the fundraiser. All information will be on our website soon.
(c) Tuesday’s Horse