By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
SAMSULA -- Horses that have been abandoned, neglected and abused in Volusia County could find themselves recovering at a local farm.
Stable Haven Horse Rescue at 480 N. Samsula Drive is a non-profit charity founded in 2010 by Jeannie Gonzalez that takes in distressed horses to nurse them back to health.
Ms. Gonzalez' dream is to live in a world where no more horses are beaten, starved or left to die alone and afraid, so she is doing what she can to save as many horses as possible. Stable Haven's mission is to provide a stable, loving and healthy environment and find permanent homes for horses that pass through the farm. Adoptions are closely scrutinized and entail follow-up inspections to ensure the horse does not end up in another bad situation.
The Stable Haven horses were a popular attraction at the Balloon Sky Fest and Air Show in New Smyrna Beach in April. Volunteers showed off several rescued horses and offered up pony rides for a nominal fee, which went back into the care and feeding of all the horses residing at Stable Haven.
Marty Mahone, vice president of the horse rescue group, also helped explain what the rescue did and detailed the stories of several horses they rescued and were showing at the Balloon Sky Fest.
Recently Ms. Gonzalez was in need of some special help of her own when her young daughter Shiayn fell ill and underwent open heart surgery in Gainesville. With the surgery initially not going well, other volunteers stepped up to care for the horses so Ms. Gonzalez could concentrate on her daughter and remain in Gainesville while Shiayn was in the hospital in critical condition.
Several teenagers gave their time every day before and after school to feed the horses and give them much needed love and attention. "We are very grateful for all the help and support, but we really wanted to highlight these three wonderful high school girls Nikki, Kayla and Eisha, who have taken on the lion's share of the daily feeding of horses and helping Jeannie's daughter, Nicki, who is currently managing the rescue," said Jane Davis, the rescue's chief communications officer. "These girls have been at the rescue every day and worked very hard."
Another teen volunteer, Alex, spread the word at the local high school that Stable Haven needed help and several teens rallied to collect donations from the students and community. They collected more than $200 and the horse rescue received a generous donation of 50 bags of feed from John Anderson, father of two of the boys that worked hard to collect the donations.
The kindness of friends, neighbors and strangers during the past month ensured the horses at Stable Haven were well taken care of and gave Ms. Gonzalez peace of mind to know she had left the rescue in good hands during her daughter's recovery. Shiayn and her mother are back home now and she is doing better, but she still has a way to go before she will be once again frolicking with the ponies out in the fields.
Meanwhile the care and feeding of abused and neglected horses continues and requires a great deal of resources. Some horses arrive near death's door and need expensive veterinary care and medicines to nurse them back to health. Stable Haven relies on donations and unpaid volunteers year-round to provide specialized care to the horses.
"It's an amazing rescue when you see the horses first come in and with love, hard work, nutrition and care, the transformation is beautiful. This care can be expensive so please help to continue this rescues mission. Every donation counts," said Darlene Oldham, a contributor.
Members of the Eagle Rock Equestrian club went to visit Stable Haven on Saturday, May 18, and were very impressed. "Stable Haven will be getting our future support and we want to get the word out to the equestrian community that this is a horse rescue that needs and deserves as much help as possible! Thank you Stable Haven for all that you do!" said a club representative.
Ms. Gonzalez wants to stress the horses are the stars at SHHR. Each horse is examined by a vet when they arrive and an individual health plan is developed to return that horse to top condition. When they are well, the horses are offered up for adoption. They try to send them to homes where the horses will be well-cared for until they reach the end of their days at a ripe old age.
Some of the horses adopted will never be ridden due to injuries suffered in their life prior to coming to Stable Haven, but many others go on to become show horses, trail horses and forever companions.
"It's been a little over a year since I adopted Trigger and I can honestly say he is my best friend. Thank you for rescuing him and allowing me the privilege to own him. Thanks for all you do," wrote Haley Stull on the SHHR Facebook page along with posting a photo of the beautiful creamy Palomino gelding.
The Volusia Feed and Farm Supply at 505 N. Samsula Drive is a big supporter of SHHR. The horse rescue purchases most of their feed from the shop and the owners have set up a rescue fund where people can donate directly to SHHR at the shop. They know what SHHR needs and can make the best use of the money donated. People can call (386) 423-1670 to make a donation.
The horse rescue is always in need of volunteers to give their time to help care for the horses and do much needed repairs around the farm. The website www.stablehaven.org contains a form for potential volunteers to fill out and submit prior to working at SHHR. None of the volunteers at the rescue are paid and perform the services out of the goodness of their hearts and desire to help the horses.
Ms. Gonzalez is seeking a band to play at their third anniversary celebration on June 15. The event is open to the public and activities include pony rides, feeding treats to the horses, rescue information, hotdogs and lemonade and more. Proceeds from the party will go directly to the horses.