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 Mustangs MEND, helping both survivors of trauma and mustang horses.
Mustangs MEND is a young organization based in Albany, Oregon, seeking to help both survivors of trauma and mustang horses. We spoke with Tami Fawcett, founder and director of Mustangs MEND, to learn more.
Horse Nation: What is Mustang MEND’s mission statement and charity status?
Tami Fawcett: Mustangs MEND is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We were officially recognized as a nonprofit by the IRS in 2017, so we are just getting off the ground! Our mission is to facilitate the healing of both survivors of trauma and mustangs through the principles of Mindfulness, Empathy, Nurturing and Dignity (MEND). Both survivors and horses learn to create meaningful connection to the world around them as a way of coping with and healing from previous trauma. Connection and confidence is created through the process of gentling a wild or abused mustang. No previous horse experience is needed, as we teach from the ground up!
HN: How did you get started?
TF: Our organization originally started as a mustang rescue network on Facebook. We would raise money for mustangs at risk of slaughter and find other rescues to take them. Eventually, we decided to begin our own nonprofit rescue to help with some of those needs in our own community. I worked with gentling several mustangs and found the process incredibly moving and healing. I want to introduce that experience to others through a program that focuses on leadership and coping skills for survivors of trauma (and others) by experiential learning with wild horses that often have similar PTSD-like symptoms and reactions, due to their own traumatic experiences from being forced into the human world and separated from their family bands.
HN: Where do the horses come from?
TF: Our horses are primarily mustangs (both BLM and reservation mustangs) and they are all rescued from dire situations. We focus on horses that are at risk of ending up at slaughter via livestock auctions. However, we often take in mustangs from homes that can no longer care for them or directly from the killpens if we were not able to intercept the mustang before it reached that final stop before slaughter. These horses are iconic figures in the United States. They literally helped build our nation and it is a tragedy that they would have such an undignified inhumane death as going to the slaughter across our borders.
HN: How are you funded?
TF: We are 100% donor funded. We have online silent auctions, YouCaring crowdfunding campaigns, and we will be applying for grants from foundations and philanthropic organizations in the future, as soon as we meet the qualifications of being in operation as a 501c3 for a year. We do get a small amount of revenue from adoptions, as well. In the future, we will be planning trail rides and clinics/retreats for leadership and lifelong learning skills. Our next big fundraiser will be an online silent auction and crowdfunding campaign to raise money for castration for the three Paiute reservation colts that we recently rescued. If you follow us on Facebook, we post our upcoming fundraisers under our Events tab.
HN: What kind of facility do you have? Do you operate with volunteer help?
TF: We operate with a 100% volunteer staff, which consists of Eve Good, myself, and several local volunteers. Currently, we are in search of an equestrian facility that would allow us to operate our programs indoors during the rainy Pacific Northwest winter and spring. But, as of now, we have a pasture and small barn donated to us near Albany, OR. We are always looking for both remote and local volunteers. There are plenty of ways to get involved, even if you are not local to the Albany, OR area!
HN: What’s one thing you wish people knew about the work that you are doing?
TF: I wish people knew that we need donor support even after the initial rescue of the horse. The most expensive part of caring for horses is not the initial price you pay, but the long term, regular upkeep and care! We need support with the less exciting parts of rescue, like hay, bedding pellets/shavings, and farrier bills. For example, we would love to have more monthly sponsors for our horses and you can do that for as little as a $25/month recurring donation.
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.