ASPCA Help a Horse Day 2017

The weather held out on April 22nd for the first Stanislaus County ASPCA Help a Horse Day at Hannink Equine Center, on north McHenry in Modesto, introduced by Healing Arenas.
The Event is to commemorate the national Help a Horse Day on April 26th. The ASPCA®, (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), designed a competition for a chance to win up to $25,000 in grant prizes to assist with their efforts to protect horses. This nationwide competition is for equine rescues and sanctuaries to raise awareness about the lifesaving work they do year-round to care for at-risk horses in their community who have often been abused or neglected. Horses have been central to the ASPCA’s work since its founding 150 years ago when Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26, 1866. 170 Events were registered to be held across the country in 2017.

Sugar with Laura Geren, our Freestyle winner

To honor the unwanted horse and the work of so many in our area, Healing Arenas collaborated with Hope’s Chance Sanctuary, (, and Oakdale Equine Rescue, (, to attend the event, providing education and a platform for rescued horses to compete and be shown for adoption.

All three of these organizations are 501c3 non-profit charities whose mission is to provide unwanted horses another chance at life. Healing Arenas, Inc., (, specializes in the off the track thoroughbred ex-racehorse, providing rehabilitation, re-training, and re-homing. Since inception in 2014, nineteen horses have been re-trained and found new jobs as Police mounted unit horses, rodeo horses, hunter/jumpers, trail, and pleasure horses. The organization retains several retired from riding ex-racers for their EAGALA, (, equine assisted psychotherapy and self development services for their Stable Survivors Veterans Project, local foster youth, individuals and families, and Corporate Team Building experiences.

Free admission provided spectators and prospective owners with the first Freestyle Competition and Adoption Showcase held in our area! To kick off the Event, patriots from the American Legion Modesto Post 74 were on hand for a ceremonial Flag Raising at Modesto Feed, to honor our veterans and the Healing Arenas Stable Survivors Veterans Project.

The Freestyle competition was open to horses that came from an unwanted situation only, (auction, organized rescue, saved from dire situation, etc.). The contest is designed after the Thoroughbred Makeover Freestyle Competition, and is a 5 minute demonstration of horse and human connection, (judged for 50% of 100 points), degree of difficulty, (judged 30%), and entertainment value, (judged 20%). Therefore, the performance can be any discipline, and any type of obstacle or prop. Our judges for the day were local trainers: Julie Mattox, Jen Hannink, and Sam Capley.

The winner was Laura Geren riding Sugar over a colorful and difficult obstacle course. Sugar is a PMU mare Laura rescued at a slaughterhouse in Canada. PMU stands for pregnant mare urine, where all mares are impregnated, and their urine is collected to manufacture Premarin. As a result, foals are almost always sent to unwanted situations. Laura wants to share her message, “for all women to become educated, and to not take hormone replacement therapy from pregnant mare’s urine,” in order to stop this inhumane treatment of horses!

After the Freestyle, local trainer and advocate Steve Bauhr provided a natural horsemanship technique with a rescue horse learning the obstacle course for the first time. Spectators enjoyed watching him working with the Hope’s Chance Sancutary rescued paint gelding.

There were several other opportunities for the public to visit with equines. Burro Bingo was played, where Chance the mini-burro was invited to leave his ‘mark’ on one of the ground painted $5 squares of the bingo board. Winner was to receive ½ the pot, however Chance marked in one of the non-paid squares! There was a Pony Paint Booth, where kids were invited to paint what they felt about horses on Noko, the irish palomino sport pony. A photo-op was also available to take your picture with Viva Pentelicus, ex-racer and winner of over $380,000.

The Adoption Showcase was held directly after the demonstration, where 8 horses were shown either under saddle or in hand. An equine chiropractic demonstration closed the Event, with Dr. Dubyak from Turlock providing Get Out Happy, (one of the ex-racehorses), with an adjustment after his 2nd place Freestyle finish!

A large Raffle and Door prize give-away was held- Thank You’s go out to The Tack Room, Oakdale Feed and Seed, WestTurf Nursery, Farnam, Escalon Feed, and many more for the wonderful prizes!

Healing Arenas would like to thank Hope’s Chance Sanctuary and Oakdale Equine Rescue for their collaboration on this Project. Also deserving many thanks are the American Legion Post 74 Honor Guard, Kyle Draper Photography, Crescent Supply’s illustrious Snak Shack, and Dubyak Family Chiropractic. Sponsorship recognition and many thanks go to Escalon Lions Club!

Perhaps the most recognition should go to all the Volunteers that dedicate their time and hearts for this work. Whether at this Event, at your chosen organization, or behind the scenes, your devotion to the unwanted horse does NOT go unnoticed – especially by the horses. We thank you!

Stay tuned for 2018 – there was very strong consensus to not only provide the Event next year, but to add a Trainer’s Freestyle Challenge, AND add an Open Freestyle Challenge for non-rescued horses!

If you would like to be involved in the planning process, compete, add your rescue/Showcase your sale horses, or assist in developing this Event, please email or call us at 209.900.7917.

Finally, don’t forget to donate your time or your change to your favorite equine charity! All three organizations are seeking volunteers NOW – get your boots on and come out to assist!
Thank you West Coast Horsemen for the editorial opportunity –

All the Best,
Julie Baker, President
Healing Arenas, Inc.
CA Non-profit Charity
# 46-5016733

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