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Date: 2007/12/23 Sunday Page: 015 Section: SPORTS Edition:
By NANCY JAFFER
FOR THE STAR-LEDGER
In a perfect world, your holiday shopping would be finished by now. The odds, however, say there remain some horse people who don't yet have a checkmark by their name on your gift list.
But consider this: Do they really need the rhinestone-decorated spurs or that bling browband; another pair of riding gloves or even a brass bridle rack?
Instead, why not make a contribution of either time or money in their name to an organization that benefits horses. Love of the animal is, after all, the real reason for being equestrian-involved. Benefits of a donation include missing out on crowded stores and traffic jams, a tax deduction, feeling that you've done something worthwhile and most important, actually helping the animals who really need it.
While there are many groups around the country and the globe that do wonderful things for horses, making a contribution to an organization in New Jersey keeps the giving close to home.
Gen Sullivan, administrator of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (www.adoptahorse.org) in Hamilton, notes the organization finally has a farm in this state where one group of its horses resides, though it still boards 120 others elsewhere across the U.S. The foundation tries to find homes for the ex-racehorses who are adoptable — some have become police mounts (you can see them on the street in Newark and Hoboken) while others excel in driving competition or dressage and as hunters and jumpers.
Standardbreds, who compete in harness races, are known for their good dispositions. That means there is plenty of latitude in what they can handle.
"We have a lot that do Civil War re-enactments. Some even pull the cannon that shoot cannon balls. It goes off and they don't care," said Sullivan.
The organization provides lifetime care for the horses whose medical or other problems make them unadoptable. Sullivan noted that since horses can live three decades or more, that can be very costly over the long term. Make contributions to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 108F Old York Road, Hamilton, N.J. 08620 or call (609) 324-1500 for an appointment to discuss volunteering. One option includes training the horses under saddle to prepare them for adoption.
A majority of the horses helped by ReRun (www.rerun.org) are off-the-track thoroughbreds that most people think of as having hunter or jumper potential.
But Laurie Lane, the group's New Jersey chapter president, notes "The hardest thing for ReRun is that although our mission is adoption, (some of) the horses that we're getting are not going on to be performance horses. They're long-term rehabilitators who come around to be trail horses. We're trying to find solutions for those guys," continued Lane, noting that it is difficult to locate someone who can ride a 3-year-old that is feisty but has an old knee fracture limits what he can do.
"Donations help, because adopters are getting harder to find," said Lane. "Horses stay with us a lot longer than they used to."
Contact Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 521-1370.
ReRun doesn't own a farm in New Jersey, but boards
horses at establishments in Ocean County.
Ellen-Cathryn Nash also has a boarding situation for her Manes and Tails rescue effort (www.manesandtailsorganization.org), which is much smaller and newer than the foundation and ReRun, but as is the case with those groups, donations to her organization are tax deductible. She "free leases" rescue horses to people who pay board on them.
Nash, who runs what amounts to a boutique program with Manes and Tails' vice president, Lynn Henderson, tests the riders who want to take over a horse to make sure they can handle such a mount.
"I rescue any horse I get a call on," said Nash, who lives in Hoboken but keeps the horses in Somerset County.
"They're mostly thoroughbreds and quarter horses, but I also have paints and Arabians. I retain ownership of the horses to protect them. I want to be able to recall them if I don't like what's going on," she explained. Checks can be sent to Manes and Tails Organization at 456 Ninth Street #26, Hoboken, NJ 07030.
At Mylestone Equine Rescue (www.mylestone.org), which is assisting 30 horses at the moment, donations needed on the Warren County farm include hay, grain and bedding.
"We also could use sponsors for the horses who have a lot of medical problems," said Susankelly Thompson, Mylestone's founder. Checks may be sent to Mylestone Equine Rescue, 227 Still Valley Road, Phillipsburg, N.J. 08865. Volunteers are welcome, but Thompson warned it is heavy-duty work, such as cleaning stalls and farm chores.
ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE Today: Tewksbury Farms Stable Show, Hidden River Farm, 745 Amwell Road, Neshanic Station.
Nancy Jaffer may be reached at email@example.com.