LARKIN VALLEY—The first time Lynn Hummer visited a Nevada auction lot where unwanted horses would be either rescued or sold for slaughter, she looked into the eyes of a horse she couldn’t save and felt the world shift.
There were about 200 horses in the lot, “all beautiful,” she recalls. They weren’t old, crippled, or mean. There were Quarter Horse geldings and mares with new babies. She helped a friend load six of them into trailers to take to new homes.
Most of the others wouldn’t be saved. More than 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter annually in a “brutal and inhumane process,” according to the Humane Society of the U.S. The USDA report that more than 92 percent of them, which are sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, are in good health and are able to live out a productive life.
“You look in their eyes and you know every single one of them matters,” says Hummer, 59, founding executive director of Pregnant Mare Rescue in Watsonville.
Hummer and her husband bought three acres of Larkin Valley land and in spring of 2006, she launched her own little nonprofit rescue operation. Since then, it’s been an all-consuming venture to rescue horses, find them permanent homes, fundraise and educate the community through social media and countywide educational programs for kids. The organization has rescued 206 horses and colts.
Although she works with a small, dedicated group of volunteers, the work taken 150 percent of her time and energy, she says. It’s also taken a toll personally, Hummer admits.
“This is what I need to be doing,” she says. “You’ve got to pay it forward. But, for my health, I need to slow down a bit. My role needs to shift.”
Hummer worked full time in an administrative position in a local company until September, when she went on leave to undergo a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She was laid off a month later. While recovering, she is focusing on taking care of herself and helping out her aging parents.
“I can come out here at 6 a.m. with my cup of coffee and it’s just magic,” she says looking out at the horse stalls encircled by eucalyptus trees. She greets each horse and a rescued donkey by name.
“I started out with this idea of getting pregnant mares out of harm’s way and it became a sanctuary of healing.” When she is discouraged about the horses she can’t rescue, she turns to her faith.
“Sometimes we just need to wait to find out the answers.”
Hummer lives with her husband their two dogs and their daughter’s dog. Six of the horses are currently looking for new homes.
This article first appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Live It Up Special Section (Winter 2016).
Opportunity to speak out.