Voices Whisper in the Desert: Equine Voices Horse Rescue
Story by Claire Sheridan
Usually at the top of the list of places that have spiritual significance in Arizona are Sedona, the Grand Canyon, or Havasupai. Although a beautiful place, the census-designated area Amado, south of Tucson and Green Valley, doesn’t normally make the cut. However, because it is home to the horse rescue, Equine Voices, Amado definitely has spirit.
Karen Pomroy, the rescue’s founder, is clearly the lightning rod for this energy. The spirit of this place is palpable as soon as you pull though the ranch gates. Started in 2004, Equine Voices has grown steadily, becoming one of the foremost horse rescue organizations in the United States. They are accredited by both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Homes for Horses Coalition.
Amazingly, Pomroy never intended to start a horse rescue when she bought Jumpin’ Jack Ranch. She planned to use the existing barn to give a home to six horses—the barn’s capacity. “But one day, I looked at the horses and thought, ‘I can do more to help horses like you.’” And thus Equine Voices was born.
Pomroy’s story is as moving as the stories of the horses she’s rescued. When the former sales and marketing professional from LA started the ranch, she worked as a waitress to make ends meet. At one point, “One bale of hay in the barn, $1000 to my name, and I had 24 horses that were in my care— it was a very, very scary place to be.” Equine Voices is a labor of love, led by a woman who has had the courage to risk everything for a cause she’s passionate about.
In the 13 years since its inception, the rescue has saved over 1000 equines, including horses, donkeys, and burros. Along with Pomroy’s efforts, this work has been done primarily by a committed group of volunteers.
The equines come from all over. Most are rescued from horrible conditions. Some have been used as drug runners, brought in near-death condition to Equine Voices by the Border Patrol. Others are rescued from abusive and neglectful owners.
Many horses are rescues that come from the pharmaceutical industry. Mares are subjected to tiny stalls, restricted watering, and kept pregnant to produce urine used to manufacture a drug used to treat symptoms of menopause. These horses, known as Premarin Mares, the namesake of the drug they are used to make, are separated from their offspring almost as soon as the foals are born. The mares are re-impregnated so they will continue to produce estrogen-containing urine to be turned into Premarin, while the foals are usually sold for slaughter or left to die of hunger. The lucky mares and foals end up at Equine Voices, where they will either be able to enjoy life as a horse should on the ranch, or be adopted to loving homes.
Pomroy said, “I was unaware and unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that comes with…the cycle of abuse, the desire to help each and every horse…knowing that you can’t…and the long hours to begin and maintain a rescue…because no matter how painful, no matter how many sleepless nights, we cannot save them all. But the quality of care they receive will never be jeopardized because I couldn’t say no.”
The organization’s poster “child” and mascot is the huge horse Gulliver, himself a former Premarin foal. Now 13 years old, Gulliver appears on many of Equine Voices’ promotional materials, and has even donated his name to the thrift store.
Equine Voices relies on grants and private donors to remain afloat. In addition, the organization runs Gulliver & Friends thrift store, which is more akin to an upscale boutique. The store was recently relocated to its new home in Tubac, next to the popular shop Gypsy Cowgirls. Volunteers staff the store and the items for sale are donated. All of the proceeds benefit the horses. Be sure to check out their holiday themed items for your holiday shopping needs, and shop with purpose!
On November 19th at The Tubac Golf Resort, you have the opportunity to support Equine Voices at their Fall Fundraiser. There will be a three-course meal, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, live music, and the possibility of winning a beautiful Jaguar XJ6, which was donated to Equine Voices for the event. For tickets ($85) and more information, visit the Upcoming Events section of the Equine Voices website.
Special thanks to April Ribblett for her knowledgeable tour of the facility, and to Karen Pomroy for her compassion to take up this mission and commitment to making sure it outlives us all. To find out how you can get involved at Equine Voices, and for information on adopting a horse, burro, or donkey of your own, check out their website at: www.equinevoices.org