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Bend horse rescue group needs helping hand


Since 2002, Equine Outreach has been a safe haven for horses that would have otherwise gone to slaughter.

“We have beautiful thoroughbreds, quarter horses, wild horses,” said founder Joan Steelhammer said Tuesday.

But now, the horse rescue has too many horses, and a new addition of nearly 30 thoroughbreds from a neglect case in Powell Butte is draining its budget.

Steelhammer told me when she started the non-profit, she planned to take in a maximum of 30 horses — now, she has nearly 150.

“We’re pushed way beyond our limits,” said Steelhammer.

Steelhammer and her team often feel taken advantage of — being turned into the dumping place for unwanted animals. She told me her heart won’t let her turn an animal in need away, but financially, Equine Outreach is the one in need.

“We’re probably one of the only humane societies that don’t have any governmental support,” she said.

The rescue runs almost 100 percent on generous donations and relies on people like Bonnie Ashenbrenner, who volunteers close to 40 hours a week.

“We believe in miracles — I mean, we’ve gotten down to one bail of hay and we feed over a ton and a half a day. And then the next day a hay truck will roll in,” said Ashenbrenner.

One ongoing problem for Equine Outreach is that horses are always coming in, but don’t always leave.

A lot of people think the horses at Equine Outreach are unadoptable and unridable, but 14-year-old Conner Naegele adopted her horse Kacey about 2 1/2 years ago, and she rides him all the time.

Steelhammer told me the non-profit was recently was certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. She also said that any naysayers should spend more time volunteering their time, and less bringing down others who do.

“All these people you see around here are putting their heart and soul into it. And if we fail we fail, but I don’t like to consider it an option,” said Steelhammer.

If you would like to donate hay to Equine Outreach, adopt an animal or even just volunteer your time visit

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