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Duchess Sanctuary Open House a Success

  • Duchess Sanctuary resident Lightning greeted young visitors. Bill Stormont

  • Visitors and horses mingled in the sanctuary's rolling hills. Bill Stormont

On June 23, the Duchess Sanctuary opened its gates to the public for just the second time since its founding in 2008.

Visitors galore

Throughout the day, the 185 rescued horses who have found refuge at the sanctuary entertained hundreds of visitors.

Among others, a busload of Garden Valley Retirement home residents, members from the Coos Bay Horse 4-H Club, students from the Wolf Creek Job Corps (who also helped out with many sanctuary-related chores), and a reporter from KPIC (Roseburg, Ore.) came to see the horses and hear their stories.

Despite the on-and-off rain showers, the happy horses managed to enthrall everyone in attendance, while the staff led visitors on a grand tour of the sanctuary.

Fundraising fun

Meanwhile, others were hard at work making fun out of fundraising for the horses.

Donations for the used-tack sale, much of which came courtesy of Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, raised $600 for the sanctuary. Meanwhile, SMM founder Darla Clark answered questions about her program and horse issues in the local community.

Donated jewelry samples from Canadian jewelry designer Blushing Pixie Jewelry also raised money for the horses, as did samples of beautiful horseshoe nail necklaces by New York designer Kristi Head. Head, who works tirelessly to help New York City's carriage horses, also put up an educational display for visitors to learn about the plight of carriage horses.

Alexandra Gritta, teen author and president of a charity that supports horse rescue groups (Charity Book Series, Inc.), made a personal appearance to sell signed copies of her children's book, Mystery at Silver Key Stables, donating all proceeds to the sanctuary. While there, she was able to see the Kubota RTV vehicle that her foundation recently helped purchase.

Close to heaven

"I am extremely proud to support the Duchess Sanctuary in any way that I can," said Alexandra. "It is such a privilege for me to experience the magic and beauty of this rare refuge populated with happy, healthy horses that are not just well cared for, but are obviously well loved.

"The fact that these PMU horses were rescued from a brutal existence and ultimate slaughter, as part of the Premarin® industry, makes Duchess Sanctuary a lot closer to heaven for these horses than most people might realize."

Finally, copies of Wayne Pacelle's book The Bond were awarded as door prizes, much to the delight of the winners.

The staff of Duchess Sanctuary looks forward to seeing everyone at the next event.

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