“Slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses, and it is not humane. Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest in crowded trucks. They are often seriously injured or killed in transit,” states The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Every year, over 100,000 horses are slaughtered and never given a second chance at a forever home. This heartbreaking reality struck a nerve in Alicia Goetz and she decided to do something about it.
While she knew that she would not be able to save all the unwanted horses, she purchased 3,800 acres in San Benito County in California and started Freedom Reigns Equine Sanctuary. She started with 150 rescued horses and over the past four years has saved a total of 500 horses, which all call the sanctuary home.
Her focus was to save the horses on the feed lots, as those are the ones in most danger of being sent to slaughter. She noticed that entire families and herds were on the lots and she couldn’t just save one, so she saved the entire family. She says that is how her number grew so fast.
In addition, she would not allow a foal and mother to be separated. She would adopt the pair and allow them to live as they should, with the mother teaching the foal how to be a horse.
Every horse will live out the rest of their lives at the sanctuary and will not be adopted out. “We just let them live like they are supposed to live,” said Goetz.
All the horses are properly cared for and fed. Twice a year, they all receive necessary vaccinations, worming, and hoof trimming. The horses are free to roam the sprawling property and form their own herds.
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The most recent addition to the sanctuary was a herd of 11 wild mustangs that were rounded up in Nevada. “These mustangs should be living on the range wild and free……despite that, we will make sure they have as good of a life as possible at Freedom Reigns,” posted the rescue.
The horses will remain in quarantine for 4-6 weeks and then will be introduced to a larger field with other wild mustangs. Aside from rescuing horses, Goetz is an advocate for wild horses and legislature that improves the quality of life for horses.
To top it all off, Goetz started the sanctuary and cares for all the horses all on her own without any donations from the public. The sanctuary is not open to the public but private tours can be arranged. It is a working ranch and the focus is the horses’ welfare.
“There should be an after to your time with the horse. I feel like we don’t treat our dogs that way, they’re part of the family, and I don’t know why people who love horses and had them in their lives would feel differently,” Goetz states. “Having a plan for their longterm life, I feel that’s what we owe them.”
Goetz is a hero and inspires others to be the change they wish to see in the world. We need more people like her in this world.
Check out the video below for a glimpse at the beautiful horses and the open meadows where they live.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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