Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we’re recognizing Mea Ola’s Place of Phelan, California.
Mea Ola’s Place is an equine rescue specializing in both horses and donkeys, located in Phelan, California. We spoke with Ann Kline of Mea Ola’s Place to learn more about the rescue’s unique programs to boost rescue awareness.
HN: Tell us a little bit more about Mea Ola’s Place and how you’re helping both people and horses.
We’re in our fifth year of operation now; we started in 2012. We recently won two county awards that we’re pretty proud of: the Hero’s Award for our horse rescue program, and a volunteer award for our efforts in helping to evacuate 200 horses and assisting displaced families from the Blue Cut fire.
With horse rescue, or with any animal profession, you have to love people — you’ll be working with a lot of them. We take on a lot of cases, and we approach every case with the motto “one life at a time.” Like Rowdy — he was a very young orphan foal we rescued who went septic and needed lots of round-the-clock help. Some might have put him down, but we nursed him through.
HN: How did Mea Ola’s Place get started?
We’re named after a mare called Mea Ola — she was basically untouchable, and slated to go to auction in a herd of 19 lame and old horses. She’s not rideable, but she’s now used for our kids’ programs. The kids paint her, they spend time with her — she still has a purpose.
We do adopt out some horses with plenty of follow-up, but we don’t have a giant turnover of horses — in the last few years, maybe three horses a year were adopted out. We commit to that one life when we take a horse on, and we thank our sponsors who step in to help cover the costs for the individual horses. It’s easy to raise money on an emotional level when you’re at auction or rescuing horses out of a bad scene, but it’s much harder to keep the funds coming in once they’re safe.
HN: Where are your horses coming from?
We do a lot of networking with other rescues to help them with particular cases. We really try to intercept horses before they end up at auction — a lot of our horses are coming from owners who might be battling sickness or physical issues that’s preventing them from taking care of their animals. Some horses are coming from animal control through seizure, and some are referred to us from veterinarians.
We’re taking in some birds as well — I have a reputation for birds thanks to my days as a vet tech. We have a baby emu right now! If there’s a need, we will fill it. We’re helping some no-kill shelters right now, fostering kittens and stuff. Anything that wants to live, we will help it.
HN: What is your facility like? Are you leasing or do you own?
We’re about a year and a half into a four-year lease-t0-own contract, and we were so lucky to have found this place. Prior, we were at another facility that sold, and it was a miracle to find this place — it’s a true oasis. Ten acres with two grass turnouts, four half to three-quarter acre turnouts, two arenas and a roundpen, a ten-stall barn… every pen and turnout has a shelter and there are trees and windbreaks planted along every enclosure as well.
We’ve got a big event tent that was donated to us as well — we use that for events.
HN: Tell us more about the events. Are these fundraisers?
Well, we do anything to get people interested: we host picnics and parties up here, and we host programs that will boost awareness of rescue and involvement from the community. We target people who have either never been around horses, or people who might have once been horse experienced but don’t have access any more — seniors, and so on. If we raise awareness of rescue, we raise support for horses in general, and we make more horse advocates. We host some summer camps and foster camps for at-risk youth too.
We do have some grant money coming in this summer, but most of our funding comes from private donors and horse sponsors. We have a few local clubs and organizations that support us.
I’ve got to tell you about the donkeys too — right now our numbers are almost equal between horses and donkeys. We host a few “Asstravaganzas” each year, where people can bring their donkeys up for a play day. We do obstacle courses, ground work, driving, and of course educate people on donkeys. We’ve done so much work to promote the donkey that I can find a home for a donkey in need faster than a horse! We find donkeys through the auction as well as adopting wild burros from the BLM.
HN: What’s one thing you wish people knew about the work you’re doing?
How much work it is, and how hard it is. And not just the outside work with the horses, but the office work too. How much volunteers matter… and how rewarding this work it to get involved with.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. 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.