By Nancy Jaffer
September 28, 2017
NOTE CHANGE OF DATE DUE TO WEATHER
Autumn is the busiest season for equestrians. There’s an abundance of trail and hunter paces, the indoor shows are getting under way along with regional championships, and some outdoor shows are continuing as well.
But in the midst of all the competitions, there also are opportunities to take a look at other aspects of the horse world. In New Jersey, one of the highlights of this season is the annual open house at Mylestone Equine Rescue in Warren County Oct. 15 (date has been changed from Oct. 8 because of weather).
This 23-acre farm is dedicated to taking the horses no one else wants; those with medical issues, the elderly, the long-neglected, the unloved. Few get adopted; most spend the rest of their lives at Mylestone, where Susankelly Thompson, her family, part-time staff and dedicated volunteers do their utmost to make life as good as it can be for these animals in need.
Residents include Tyler, formerly used for giving pony rides, but at age 23 his arthritic knees made that a thing of the past. He’s now part of the grooming program, in which special needs kids learn to take care of horses. Dillon, a red roan Appaloosa, is starting to trust humans again after being mishandled and beaten. Shadow, whose former owner didn’t think it was worth it to have his infected eye treated, is now totally blind but happy to be at Mylestone.
“A lot of the horses that can’t be adopted out, we have for a long time,” said Susankelly. For instance Cleo, an ex-racehorse who broke down on the track, has been at Mylestone for 22 years. She was being used for contagious equine metritis testing and due to go to an auction when she was cycled out of the program, so Mylestone stepped in and took her. The only people who wanted to adopt her thought they would breed her, but Susankelly didn’t think that was a good idea.
“There are enough unwanted horses,” she pointed out.
The organization’s Equine Relief Fund also will be promoted at the open house. It is geared to helping rescues in Texas and Florida that were affected by the hurricanes. The money goes toward veterinary bills, transportation and replacing supplies that have been lost. The fund also helps other equine rescues in New Jersey that need assistance.
“I don’t think people realize horses don’t have anywhere else to go, especially in the state of New Jersey. The SPCA doesn’t have a place to take horses. If the rescues or private foster homes don’t step up…You can take your dog or cat to the shelter but you can’t drop your horse off at the shelter,” Susankelly noted.
The day will feature a number of vendors who will be selling everything from toys to tack and jewelry. Those attending are asked to bring at least one can of soup that will go to a local food pantry, since Mylestone’s concerns extend beyond the horses to people who are in need.
The open house, which usually draws 400-600 people, will be held from noon-4 p.m., with a rain date of Oct. 15. If you can’t make it, it is possible to get an appointment for a private tour, but you can’t just drop in because the work involved in taking care of these horses is so intense that there’s time for a chat unless plans are made in advance.
Attending the open house could be a good life lesson for privileged kids who compete on horses that are well-fed and groomed to a T every day. They would no doubt have their eyes opened by what they see at Mylestone.
Mylestone is located at 227 Still Valley Road, Pohatcong, but the GPS usually comes up Phillipsburg. Those who want to send checks may mail them to 227 Still Valley Road, Phillipsburg, N.J. 08865. For more information, go to www.mylestone.org.