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"Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight"
~Albert Schweitzer

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Equine Photographers Network
 2009 Horses in Need Documentary Project


The Horses in Need Documentary Project was posted on Equine Photographers Network as an image assignment for Pro and General members. 

The photographers that submitted documentaries found it was much more than just an assignment. The quest of most photographers is to capture beauty in their images. Typically equine beauty is portrayed in color, conditioning, tone, strength, movement, and in their connection with humans.  In this assignment, that beauty was not always visible upon the first glance. They found beauty in places most people would avoid looking. They found beauty in places where it was difficult to find hope. The circumstances that brought each horse to a point of needing rescue varied. Whether it was hardship of their humans, neglect, abuse, greed or in some cases human mental illness, each animal had a story. These are stories born of sorrow, however many of these horses now have hope due to kind intervention. 

The photographers that participated in this project helped raise awareness of suffering and neglect. They helped in the adoption effort and in some instances adopted animals themselves. They have made friends through the journey, both equine and human. Further, many photographers have committed to continue their efforts to give back.  

“Please Consider the Adoption Option” 
 by Karen Bayerl, Pittsville, WI

Karen Bayerl is a volunteer for Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation in Pittsville, WI  Her documentary features two very young fillies that were rescued with 25 other horses from a single farm. Many had never known human contact, and all were severely starved and neglected.  Karen dedicates most of her time to the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation. She continues to work on the next chapter in the story of these two precious fillies, and the other horses sheltered at MHWD, finding their forever homes.  

by Barb Young, Colorado

Barb Young’s documentary is essentially the rescue of a rescue. She witnessed the declining health and neglect of a draft mare near her home. The PMU mare was starving and badly infested with parasites. When reports to local authorities did nothing to improve the conditions, Barb intervened and adopted Anna herself.  Barb shares the story of Anna’s restoration to health and her current happy situation in a new home.

“End of the Trail Rescue and Sanctuary”
by Barb Young, Colorado 

In Barb Young’s quest to help Anna, the neglected draft mare featured in her prior documentary, Barb met Kathy Hamm, director of End of the Trail Rescue and Sanctuary.  Many horses find their way to End of the Trail Rescue and Sanctuary, all are loved and rehabilitated, of those some find forever homes and a few others find another special place.  Kathy has merged her two passions; she is also the director of Dream Catcher Therapy Center. The clients of DCTC have their own story to tell, and they are sure to find just the right companion at End of the Trail Rescue and Sanctuary.   
by Dwain and Daniela Snyder, Charlotte, North Carolina

“This is the story of all the needless pain and tragedy that exist in our world every day.” Dwain and Daniela’s documentary features images of Ziggy, a horse rescued too late. In their documentary they bring awareness to the suffering of all creatures. 

 by Laura Cotterman, Delaplane, Virginia

After being out of the horse business many years, photographer and former horse trainer Laura Cotterman jumped back in, five deep! The veterinary practice where Laura’s daughter, Helen is manager received a report about a group of Thoroughbreds suffering without food and water.  For ten days, Helen hauled food and water out to the herd.  At this point it was clear that these horses needed more than a temporary fix. Laura and Helen made arrangements to purchase the horses. Laura’s family and friends pooled together and rented pasture and nurses the horses back to health. So, how does a good hearted equine photographer who finds herself with five unwanted horses go about finding them perfect homes?

Nigel found Boo at Redwings, a rescue organization where 1,000 ponies, donkeys and mules are cared for. Boo and his pasture buddy were victims of a cruel, brutal and violent attack. The two horses were shot point blank with pellet rifles.  Both horses survived the initial attack. Boo was already blind in one eye, prior to the shooting. There are very few options for horses that are completely sightless.  Boo’s incredible temperament and the skilled and compassionate care of Redwings made rescue a possibility.   Although he could face further obstacles, Boo has adjusted, and is a delight to the staff and volunteers, and has made a very distinct impression on at least one equine photographer. Nigel has vowed, he will continue to offer support to Redwings in the future. 
“I didn’t want to take 'Pity" type shots, I wanted to show Boo as the magnificent horse he is with a quality of life given to him by Redwings”

Few individuals take on the rescue of a wild mustang.  Pam Nickoles rescued the same stallion twice. In 2007, Pam had photographed El Mariachi, a magnificent stallion in the wild.  Later that year she rescued him after a round up from a BLM holding facility where his future was uncertain. El Mariachi was placed with many others at a facility where it was understood they would be allowed to live in the wild under a human custodian. Earlier this year, it was discovered the horses at the ranch were terribly neglected and starved.  Learning of the conditions at the ranch, Pam rescued El Mariachi again. Once his physical health was restored, she set out to secure the wild home she had promised him.  Through determination and a connection of good friends and good will, she is now assured he is in a place where he can flourish.

“fə tóggrəfee réskyoo”
by Rachael Waller, Southern California and West Texas 

Rachael has dedicated the last five years to equine rescue.  Her documentary of horses in need of rescue contains a moving heartfelt testimony of the blessings and enrichment the saved souls have given her in her rescue journey. The mirrored reflection of saving a horse can be saving a human soul, as well. 

“Saving the Wild Flowers”
by Rachael Waller, Los Angeles , CA and West Texas 

Rachel Waller is at Lifesavers in Lancaster , CA , when Jill Starr brings in 26 horses from Three Strikes Ranch. The conditions and horrors of Three Strikes Ranch gained national media attention earlier this year. Jill Starr was one of the first to respond.  Rachael documents the horse’s arrival at Lifesavers and the range of emotions that comes with such and event.  The documentary shares the Mother’s Day miracle of “Wild Flower.”  

by Laurie Taylor, Southern California
Luis was a proven winner on the track with a successful future ahead of him. When he suffered an injury he was found at a livestock auction.  He was lucky to be discovered by Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue. They bid and secured him for $250.00, outbidding the kill buyers. It was a day of two punch fortune, for the same day he was rescued from auction; his new soon to be adoptive owner had begun her search for a horse in need of a safe home. Gay Talmey an accomplished and prominent equestrian had through a friend been put in touch with SCTR. Her motive well stated in the quote from her website at Rancho Alegre.  

  “The ongoing quest at Rancho Alegre is to maintain that perfect balance between the pursuit of excellence in the competition arena and protecting the welfare and happiness of our equine partners…” 

“Deserving Horses” 
by Laurie Taylor, Southern California 

Upon becoming acquainted with Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, Laurie Taylor had a difficult time focusing on just one horse for the documentary project for EPNet.  Laurie shares the stories of several thoroughbreds saved by SCTR. Most of them were found at auctions.  SCTR actively bid against kill buyers to secure their future and the hope of a forever home. 

Cannington Horse Rescue in Little Britian, Ontario is operated by Maureen Johnston and her family. The rescue is credited for saving over 200 horses since 2001. Dorothy Puddester writes of the varied circumstances that brought several of the horses to the grace and kindness of Cannington Horse Rescue.  Cannington Rescue although struggling with the down economy, continues their efforts to save and re-home horses in need. Although a permanent home is desired for all, none of the horses that have found their way into the care of Cannington Horse Rescue shall ever again fear harm or neglect.  

Vanessa Wright’s documentary features Dan, a rescued Clydesdale adopted from MSPCA Nevins Farm.  In the Nevins’ Horses Helping Horses program, alumni adoptees such as Dan participate in a variety of events with equine enthusiasts.  The events, such as pledge sponsored trail rides along the beach and horse shows are designed to educate, promote adoption, and gather community involvement. The events seem to spark quite an interest in horse enthusiasts and those that soon will be. The generous horses of HHH share the proceeds with the many other farm animals that found their way to Nevins Farm.

“Resilient Souls” 
by Alise Lamoreaux, Oregon

Alise Lamoreaux had already adopted a rescue horse.  Her response to EPNet’s Horses in Need project found her digging deeper and deeper, looking at the circumstances that put these resilient souls in situations of suffering and neglect.  Alise’s documentary sheds some light on a condition many people have witnessed, but most can not comprehend.  Animal “hoarding” puts many animals in harms way. The rescuing of the animals is the first step and obvious focus point, but Alise explains how the root problem requires further intervention. Alise wound up adopting the horse she featured from the Emerald Valley Equine Assistance Rescue.

Susan Friedman discovered Sunrise Rescue Center for her documentary project. Tracee, the director rescued her first horse with the help of her dad when she was seventeen.  The center is now home to about 15 rescue horse and home away from home for their caring humans. Susan not only had the opportunity to learn about the horses, but the love and support they give back to the people that care for them.

“Making a Difference through Volunteering” 
by Jeanine Crum, North Carolina
Jeanine can not give due credit to the organization that has saved these two horses, because of the ongoing legal issues associated with their neglect. The horses she featured were near death when they were rescued. With the generosity of the rescue organization, the foster care givers and veterinarian, she has documented the beginning of their return to health in a loving environment. Jeanine reiterates the need report abuse to authorities and for contributions to support rescue operations.

Dwain and Daniela Snyder, Terri Stemper and Karsen Price created a documentary that reveals an aspect of the equine industry few people knew existed. Nurse mares are bred not for foals, but to produce milk for prize thoroughbred farms.  The future of these foals separated from their dams on the day of their birth is bleak, indeed. Phoebe is a foal that was fortunate to find herself in the care of Terri Stemper and Dream Equine Therapy Center .

Susanne features two horses rehabilitating at Throwaway Ponies Horse Rescue and Therapy in Rockwall, TX . Lynx is being nurtured after severe founder, he was rescued in route to slaughter. Tequila is the picture of perfect health restored. While these throwaway ponies are recovering, they are already giving to people. The horses of Throwaway Ponies Horse Rescue and recovery are helping women and children who have endured sexual, physical or emotionally abuse regain their self esteem. 

by Lisa Kemp, Chicago, Illinois

Lisa is a freelance writer for the equine industry. She has been following the story of these horses seized from a carriage company in the Chicago area.  The horses have been cared for by the Hooved Animal Humane Society since they were seized in February. The legal process must be completed before these horses can count on a permanent resolution.

by Laurie Taylor, Southern California

Laurie brings two more stories from Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue.  Magic was seized from a boarding stable after a potential buyer reported his neglected and starving condition to animal control authorities.  He has made an incredible transformation under the care of SCTBR.  He is being carefully being reintroduced to the saddle, in the hopes he will soon make an adoptive owner very happy.  Katie was found at auction with several other thoroughbreds.  She was shown under saddle, yet due to her poor condition went to the feedlot. SCTRB was able to negotiate a 48 hour reprieve to gather funding to secure her and a couple of others.  Katie is under the care of a SCTRB foster home, where her wounds are being treated and her health is being restored.  She is showing progress in learning to trust again.

by Darlene Wohlart, Florida

Darlene Wohlart revisited Beauty’s Haven Rescue where she had attended a workshop with Equine Photographers Network earlier this year.  Darlene’s documentary features Theresa Batchelor, the creator and operator of Beauty’s Haven Rescue.  Theresa’s story is remarkable.  Despite her own physical challenges, she manages a daily regime of feeding, vaccinating, monitoring and providing all the care and love for 34 or more horses that were fortunate to find their way to her.  When Theresa is not out with the horses, she is busy scheduling vets, meeting with prospective clients, fund raising and posting a daily blog.  Theresa’s work not only helps horses in need, but fulfils her own dream of having and helping horses.

Latest news from the Pryor Mountain Roundups
by Carol Walker, Colorado

Two weeks ago the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains in Montana were rounded up using helicopters, and driven over 11 miles down rocky dangerous terrain.  130 horses were brought in, and 57 of them were removed from their families and their home, and will be offered for adoption on September 26 in Lovell, WY, including the 19 year old band stallion Conquistador and the 21 year old mare Grumpy Grulla. The rationale cited by the Bureau of Land Management for the roundup is poor range condition and too many horses, despite the fact that the range looks better this year due to precipitation than it has looked in the 7 years I have been going there, and despite the loss of 12 foals this year due primarily to mountain lion predation.

When the horses were released, most of them were suffering from some degree of lameness, from barely able to walk for two younger foals, to soreness for Cloud and many other adult horses.   Currently in the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources is the ROAM Act, S1579 a bill designed to protect America’s  wild horses.  Wild horse advocates from all over the country are planning to attend “Mustangs on the Hill” on September 29 in an attempt to get the bill moved from Committee to the Senate floor for a vote.   

Read the complete story on Carol's Blog and on YouTube

Plan to join us in 2010 for the next
EPNet Horses in Need Documentary Project.