In October of 2011 we were contacted by an elderly man who had to move his horses off some property. They had to be moved right away. Most of the horses had already been moved, but there was a group of stallions that the other transporter refused to move. Jason and Tawnee agreed to help him and move his horses to his new pasture. It was surprising how many stallions there were, so Tawnee told him about our Gelding Assistance Program in hopes that he would take advantage of it, but he wasn’t interested. When Jason and Tawnee turned the horses loose in their new pasture, they both had the sinking feeling that would not be the last time they would be dealing with those horses.
Years later, just recently, we got the call that the man was in trouble as he wasn’t able to feed his horses, and had to move them again. There was a court battle going on and again we offered our assistance to him and told him we could bring the horses into our shelter. He declined our offer and contacted other rescues for assistance. He finally found a place to move a few horses to, near Grass Valley, and instead of moving the few agreed upon, he moved his entire herd, nearly 60 horses, there. What grass was on the property was quickly stripped down to dirt and the horses began rapidly declining in weight. Nevada County Animal Control and Sammie’s Friends (who run Nevada County Animal Control shelter) stepped in and he was forced to sign the horses over as he was unable to care for them and give them the feed they needed. He told Animal Control that he had sold 17 of the horses and removed them from the property, so they took possession of 41 horses.
As soon as Animal Control had custody of the horses, they were able to take trailer loads of feed out there for the horses.
When Animal Control brought out food for the first time they told our staff it was a feeding frenzy. The horses were so hungry they became very aggressive over the food, and ate it like they hadn’t see food in a very long time.
We received the call that Nevada County Animal Control wanted to transfer the 41 horses to our shelter. There was no one wanting to adopt the horses, and there was nowhere for them to go. Being an open door shelter, we said “Yes.” We agreed that Wednesday would be the big transport day. They had plenty of trailers and volunteers to move the horses, but Tawnee headed out in the rescue rig to assist with loading early Wednesday morning.
When Tawnee arrived she found a lot of horse trailers lined up and waiting. It was such a great sight.
Each one of the horses had to be photographed and information written down by Animal Control before loading.
The other horses outside of the loading chute were contentedly eating hay, waiting for their intake photos to be taken.
Finally the first load was on its way to our shelter. The first load was loaded relatively easy since there was a nice group of horse people helping load.
The horses that were in the holding pen, which were the next horses to be loaded, decided to escape, knocked down the panels, and ran free. Groups of people started trying to round them up again.
News10 arrived and started interviewing people about what was going on.
CW31 also arrived and started filming for their news broadcast.
The horses were completely uninterested in being captured in the large field. Search and Rescue was called to bring out their UTV’s to assist in rounding up the horses.
The corral was set back up with more food in hopes the horses could be lured in.
Finally another group of horses got into the holding pen and were ready for loading. The Sheriff decided that for public safety only Animal Control officers and Sammie’s Friends staff could be in the loading area. It took over 1 1/2 hours to get the trailer loaded with horses. All kinds of tactics were used trying to load them, including wrapping a rope around them, yelling, screaming, kicking, and more…. It was hard for Tawnee to sit and watch for that long, when she knew that loading the horses could be done very quickly. After one tactic was tried which Tawnee knew would never work and would only end up with someone or one of the horses being hurt, she stepped in and asked if there was any way that they would at least let her try to load some of the horses. If it didn’t work, they could go back to their methods. They agreed and Tawnee got a quick team together with Freedom Horse Rescue and got a method planned for loading the next group as the Sheriff and Animal Control finally got the second load of horses into the trailer. 2 trailers loaded in 5 hours wasn’t going to get the job done.
Tawnee and Freedom Horse Rescue were able to load the horses easily into the trailers without any mishaps or injury to horse or human. Back at the shelter, a steady stream of horse trailers were arriving, backing up to the unloading chute, and leaving empty.
The horses were very confused and bewildered. We tried to tell them that everything would be OK.
They started relaxing and settling down once they were in the holding pen.
Meanwhile, by Grass Valley, the horses were being less cooperative while they ran all over the property avoiding the catch pen.
After lots of hard work and miles of running, as the sun slipped behind the hill, the last group of horses were finally in the holding pen ready to be loaded.
The last photographs and information was written down on each horse.
One trailer at a time the horses were loaded up and sent off to the shelter.
Finally the last two horses were ready to be loaded. They were not transported to our shelter as it was getting so late, but they went to a safe place for the night.
Finally the last horse trailers were lined up ready to leave. Everyone was extremely exhausted after the long day.
The horses all traveled safely and made it to the shelter uninjured. Tawnee snapped this very cute picture when she stopped at a gas station for fuel. The horses were definitely wide eyed about everything that was going on.
Everyone was happy when the last horses were unloading at the shelter. All these horses are going to be evaluated and all the horses that do not have chronic health problems are going to be put into our adoption program with waived adoption fees to approved homes. If anyone is interested in adopting a stallion we will pay to have it gelded here at our shelter before adoption. Adopters need to know that these are semi feral horses with no training. If you are interested in adopting one of them, please contact us as soon as possible.
CW31’s news story was very good, you can watch it by clicking here.
News10’s story was also very good, you can watch it by clicking here.
We desperately need your donation to help care for these horses. Rescuing a large number of horses like this is extremely costly, just the care for them alone will be about $150 a day. Your donations are greatly needed and every dollar will definitely help. To donate, click here.