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Give a horse a home

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An Ashland woman is hoping to connect homeless horses with people who own pastures.

"There are just a lot of horses out there that need a place to go, and there are no places for them to go," said Linda Davis, executive director and founder of the Equamore Foundation horse sanctuary outside Ashland.

Davis said she fields phone calls on an almost daily basis from people who are looking to find new homes for their horses.

But the sanctuary already houses 57 horses that were neglected, abused or abandoned.

Davis said people with acreage can help ease the chronic problem of homeless horses in the Rogue Valley.

She hopes landowners will step forward and let her know they have pasture and shelter available. Davis can then compile a list of available properties to give to people who call about a horse that needs a new home.

Davis said whether landowners want to donate the use of their land or negotiate a rent or lease agreement is between them and the person trying to place a horse.

While an empty green pasture might seem ideal, she cautioned that horses do need water and a place to seek shelter from the weather.

“Horses can survive by eating just strictly off a pasture if it is a sufficient size and the grass is of some sort of nutritional quality. But horses really need a shelter — and you’ll see lots and lots of animals out there without shelters,” she said.

During the winter, frozen grass can lose its nutritional value. Horses need supplemental hay in those situations, she said.

People without property still can help by contacting the Equamore Foundation and volunteering to help care for horses.

Davis said some horse owners become disabled or elderly and can no longer care for their animals alone. Having someone help feed and water a horse could allow the horse to stay on its home property.

Davis said a cadre of horse caregivers could emulate the Meals on Wheels program, in which volunteers deliver meals to people who are elderly or disabled, helping them stay in their homes longer.

She said volunteers would need to have some experience around horses since the large animals can be dangerous. Volunteers should also have knowledge about nutritional requirements and feeding.

After more than 40 years of caring for horses, Davis said she’s seen horses become homeless for a variety of reasons.

Some were neglected, abused or abandoned and had to be seized by law enforcement. The sanctuary works with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on many such cases — which often trigger a hunt for a new home for horses.

The Jackson County Animal Shelter does not accept horses.

Davis said some people want to get rid of a horse that is no longer serviceable due to injury or old age.

“And they just want somebody else to take the responsibility of caring for them so they can go out and get another horse that they can use up,” she said.

Other people have been responsible horse owners for years, but decline physically and are no longer able to care for their beloved animals, she said.

Davis said new horse owners sometimes don’t realize how long horses can live and the costs involved. Equamore Foundation’s oldest horse is 43, and many horses at the sanctuary are in their 30s.

“It’s absolutely crucial that people make a lifetime commitment to the animals they take on. And if they can’t make that commitment, they should not get the animal,” Davis said.

To contact the Equamore Foundation about available property or to volunteer to be a horse caregiver, call 541-482-5550 or email equamore@charter.net. For more information about the foundation, visit www.equamore.org.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Woody, a mustang abused after his capture in Nevada, (left), and Chaps, who was wounded and near death, are two of the many horses rescued and now living out their days at the Equamore Sanctuary in Ashland. Photo by Denise Baratta