APTOS — About a half dozen jars of pennies donated by local children sit on the desk of Lynn Hummer, the founding owner of a temporary respite home for horses — it’s not enough to pay the bills through winter.
“It’s always such a struggle,” said Hummer whose nonprofit organization, Pregnant Mare Rescue, has found homes for more than 105 abandoned or endangered horses since it was founded in 2006. The cost of hay, supplements and vet care is high. “Sometimes horses stay a really long time before they’re ready to go to new home.”
Hummer, who works full time in a Watsonville, is always looking for volunteers who can help feed the horses. She is also seeking investors for a larger rescue project.
“This is strictly a labor of love here,” she said.
When the children bring their glitter-covered jars of pennies, she bakes them horse-shaped sugar cookies and takes pictures of them with the refugees.
All of the horses at the ranch have stories of trauma and grace. Avalon, a blond mare, was found wandering the streets of Gilroy eight months pregnant when she was picked up in May by animal control and brought to the three-acre Larkin Valley ranch. Several months later, she had her foal, Camelot. There is also 5-year-old Hunter, 3-year-old Kizmet, Molly, Gigi, Jasmine and Executive Tess, a 22-year-old former racehorse. A few elder horses live at the ranch and help educate youth and people with disabilities in Santa Cruz County.
“I help them understand how their jar of pennies helps the horses,” Hummer said. “It’s their first dip into the pool of fundraising.”
In January, PMR joined a national network of horse rescue groups finding homes for the annual rush of nurse mare foals, which are born in big numbers in the racing industry at the beginning of each calendar year. Each year, mares are impregnated so they will be able to nurse the offspring of racehorses. The nurse mares’ foals are generally shipped off for slaughter. Hummer said the ranch helped four of the 425 horses that were rescued and fundraised, networked and helped haulers place others in homes across the country. This year, she hopes to raise $2,000 for the “orphan train” that picks up the foals in the south and hauls them to new homes.
“I’m kind of the last stop on the West Coast,” Hummer said. Currently PMR has eight horses needing homes and several that need sponsorship. “We continue to struggle to make the public aware of what we’re doing.”
Earlier this year, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries awarded Verified status to Pregnant Mare Rescue, which means the organization meets the criteria of a true equine sanctuary/rescue and is providing humane and responsible care of the animals.
Follow Sentinel correspondent Jennifer Pittman at Twitter.com/jenniferpittman
At a glance
PREGNANT MARE RESCUE
For information about adoption, sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call 408-540-8568 or visitwww.pregnantmarerescue.org; Pregnant Mare Rescue, P.O. Box 962, Aptos, CA 95001.