If there is one thing about me that I know for sure, it’s that I absolutely love If horses. This is probably not a surprise to most of you, as my Facebook is overflowing with pictures of my horse, Rio, and I miss lots of school for horse shows. I have first hand experienced the bond that develops between human and equine, born out of a trust so strong that the rider essentially trusts the horse with its life. And in a way, the horse does the same- it trusts that its ‘person’ will be there to feed and care for it. But unfortunately, this is not the case for hundreds of thousands of horses who are neglected and abandoned across the country.
Despite how despairing this realization is, for horses in the northwest, there is hope. Hytime Equine Rescue is a family run business located in Eagle Creek, Oregon. I first went to Hytime three years ago for Mount Hood Climb Service Day, initially drawn in by my love for the horses. I am so glad I went, because a deep appreciation for the organization and its amazing volunteers followed.
I think I expected to be startled and depressed by the state of the recent rescues, but the property has a wonderful balance of hope and rehabilitation. First off, nothing says “Welcome!” like three absolutely adorable foals. Since Hytime is an amalgam of a Drum Horse breeding facility, horse rescue, horse retirement center, boarding barn, and dog center, there is plenty of cute. As for the rescue horses, which live in a giant pasture filled with lush green grass and shady trees around the perimeter, some of the recent rescues were in bad condition. Their ribs were showing, and they appeared to have very little muscle. For me, coming from a Hunter/Jumper barn where the horses are prized athletes and companions are treated with the utmost of care, this was a shock. But as I continued to wander through the field and meet more of the horses, I quickly saw the difference between the horses that had been there for longer periods of time- their coats shiny and glossy, their muscle good, with a calm demeanor in their eyes.
As I made my way through the field with a bucket of brushes to groom random horses, one horse stood out to me more than the rest. My favorite horse, a medium sized chestnut gelding, no taller than 16.1 hands, had a beautiful eye and a long mane. Jim, the owner of the property, told me that the horse had made over $400,000 dollars on the race track before coming to Hytime. My heart ached as I imagine this horse, with immense talent and grace, who was extremely successful with its task, whose owners did not want to take care of it after it retired.
I was especially pleased last year to explore some of the less glamorous tasks that go along with running the property. We spent a few hours cleaning fences and stalls, scrubbing away dirt and dust. As someone who spends lots of time in barns, I know all of the work behind keeping a facility running, and honestly I cannot imagine having to manage those barn chores while simultaneously caring for all of the horses. There is something magical in that sense about Hytime.
Kritschgau, above, with Rosie the Donkey.
I’ve always enjoyed service and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with helping other people. But the fact that I was helping HORSES, intensified the experience to a whole new level. One thing is for certain: I’m going to keep volunteering at horse rescues for the rest of my life. I’m very enthused to lead this service activity this year for MHCSD, and I hope that the group’s time there will be transformative for each of the participants- so transformative, that another student will be inspired to continue OES’ relationship with Hytime in the years to come.
A group of 8 students has gone to Hytime Equine Rescue to work with the horses (mostly stall cleaning and horse grooming) for the past three years. For more information and a plethora of photos, visit Hytime’s Facebook Page, at https://www.facebook.com/pages/HyTyme-Equine-Rescue/153039884749516.