Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Easy Horse Care Rescue Center
In our weekly spotlight with Ovation Riding to recognize organizations and individuals doing good work in the horse world, we’re honoring Easy Horse Care Rescue Center of Spain during its fundraising international art auction!
Easy Horse Care Rescue Center of Rojales, Spain is the only recognized horse rescue facility in the country. We spoke with EHC founder Sue Weeding, with input from Koren Helbig regarding the ongoing online art auction.
HN: What is Easy Horse Care Rescue Center’s charity status and mission statement?
SW: Our mission is to rescue and rehabilitate abused, neglected and abandoned horses, ponies and donkeys, while campaigning for the better treatment of animals across Spain. We are a no-kill foundation and provide each rescued animal with a safe and loving sanctuary – either here at our centre or via rehoming – for the rest of their lives.
We are the only officially registered horse rescue centre foundation in Spain. (All donations are tax deductible.)
HN: How did Easy Horse Care get started?
SW: Rod and I moved to Spain from England in 2001, aiming to slip into an easy sunshine-and-relaxation retirement. But all that changed in 2008 with Luceiro, a two-year-old stallion we found locked in a filthy and dark stable, his left eye badly injured and rotting, hurling himself repeatedly against the bars of his stall as flies drove him crazy.
Unable to walk away from such a distressing case of animal cruelty, we brought Luceiro home to our own finca – and unwittingly created a much-needed horse rescue centre. The centre is based near the little town of Rojales in the province of Alicante, along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline.
We now care for 98 horses, ponies and donkeys saved from abuse and neglect, plus a menagerie of other rescued animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, chickens, geese, Ernie the turkey and Isadora the pig.
HN: Can you describe your facility, staff and volunteers?
SW: We are a very small, grassroots organisation – it’s basically just Rod and I, and we work seven days a week to keep it all going. The only staff we have are several labourers who help us muck out the stalls and fields each day (and we’re currently looking for a stable manager). We also have a small army of volunteers who man our six charity shops, help on our open days and manage our website and social media. Without them, none of this would be possible and we are so grateful for their ongoing support.
As you can see in this video, our facilities are very basic. Rod used to work in construction back in the UK, so thankfully he is very handy and has managed to build our stables, field shelters and other facilities using recycled and donated materials. It’s not the Hilton, but our horses are comfortable and safe.
HN: What kind of cases are you dealing with?
SW: Our rescues almost always begin with a report from a concerned member of the public, who has spotted an equine in trouble. We cannot act without legal permission, so we always encourage the person to make an official report to Spanish police. Hearteningly, we have witnessed local police begin to take animal welfare much more seriously in the eight years since we began the rescue centre. Where officers used to largely ignore reports of cruelty and neglect (because they simply had nowhere to place seized equines), they now know that we will step in to take the animal and officers are therefore much more willing to act. We often attend these rescues with police officers by our side.
We also respond to reports of equines found wandering on public property and very occasionally do take animals surrendered by their owners, although only in extreme situations as taking these cases restricts our ability to respond to cruelty and neglect cases.
HN: What’s your adoption or rehoming process?
SW: We have very strict policies around adoption and rehoming. Many of our equines are physically or psychologically scarred as a result of their past abuse and neglect, and require expensive ongoing specialist care and medication. It is also rather difficult to keep horses well in this part of Spain, as it is a very dry, hot and dusty area with very little field forage.
We therefore find few people who are willing to cover the high ongoing costs of proper feeding and care, as well as medication and veterinary treatment for disabled horses. However, we are always willing to discuss adoption options with anyone who expresses interest.
HN: How are you funded?
SW: Though police often legally place seized horses in our care, we receive absolutely no government funding. So our six charity shops, along with donations from our supporters, are the only way we manage to raise the €4000 ($4350 US) we need each week just to feed and care for our equines. We rely on special fundraising campaigns to raise money for facility upgrades and improvements.
The best way people can help us is by becoming a monthly sponsor for as little as $5 a month. This small amount truly is life changing as collectively, it adds up into a strong and steady income that allows us to cover our hefty feeding and care costs, while ensuring we can continue rescuing needy horses in the future.
KH: My friend Isabel Sodric and I have rallied a bunch of artist friends together – more than 20 from seven countries, about which we are quite proud! – for an art auction raising money for Easy Care Horse Centre. The event has an online sale element which means anyone worldwide can join in.
We tried to be picky about the artists involved and I reckon we did end up with pretty cool stuff in the mix, some of which were directly inspired by the rescued horses, such as Harley, Captain and Christiana. The online art sale runs for two weeks only and wraps up on November 22. We’ll then wrap it up with a live auction here in Alicante (Spain) on November 26.
Proceeds will help buy winter hay, a major expense that places the rescue centre under extra pressure during the cooler months when prices almost double to €5 a bale. The rescued equines munch their way through 29 bales every single day.
HN: If people knew one thing about the work you do, what would it be?
SW: Our work is not just about saving one horse here or one donkey there. We are leading the way forward for animal welfare in Spain. Very few people realise that, although we are in Europe, Spain is still very much like a third-world country when it comes to animal welfare. So our centre is making a huge difference – because of our work, more people are reporting animal abuse and neglect and more police are responding.
Where the system is continuing to fail is that we receive no public funding. That’s why we need people from all over the world, who understand what we are doing and can see the bigger picture, to support us with monthly donations. Monetary support will allow us to continue growing and working with police until the system catches up and the government starts funding a proper animal welfare system in Spain. In the meantime, we must fill the gap and we can only do that with the support of generous sponsors.
To learn more about Easy Care Horse Center, please visit the organization’s website and follow EHC on Facebook.
If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.
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