Tuesday, July 10, 2007

National Geographic Targets Ojai

Stylin, Tanner and Ellie, three of the five horses adopted into the Goodwill Ambasador program at Alexis Ells’ Equine Sanctuary on Boardman Road, anxiously await breakfast before a National Geographic filming of a new program called Dream Quest begins.

By Linda Harmon

Early Sunday morning, six Ojai thoroughbreds were put through their paces for the cameras of National Geographic magazine.
The crew arrived at the Boardman Road facility to shoot a documentary on The Equine Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization for the rescue and rehabilitation of the American thoroughbred horse.
According to Alexis Ells, who founded the organization in 2002, National Geographic selected the sanctuary as part of their “Dream Quest” series, scheduled to be published in October, November and December.
“The series will feature three organizations who they feel are inspiring people to make a difference in their world,” said Ells. “We’re really excited that the magazine chose our program as one of three to be spotlighted.”
Ells called the selection a great surprise.
“I received an initial call and then just kept answering their questions during the follow-up calls,” said Ells. “Then they finally called and said we were one of the three finalists to be featured.”
National Geographic plans to run a four-page spread on the equestrian center in the November issue as part of their “Dream Quest” series. Also planned is a filmed version on the National Geographic web site, nationalgeographic.com.
Ells welcomed the chance to get the word out about the Ojai center with the help of an internationally recognized institution like National Geographic. “We rescue American thoroughbreds and give them specialized training with the hope of getting them socialized and ready for a new home. We are dependent on donations and grants to fund the sanctuary,” she said, adding that many more animals need similar sanctuaries.
“Trainers used to use the American thoroughbred breed for jumpers when they weren’t fast enough to race, but not any more. The show world has decided they are not fancying the American thoroughbred, and that’s left them without a home. There are only so many breeders, so many stables and so many slots, and many horses just go to slaughter.
“We need to let people know what’s happening to the beautiful horses they see winning these races. The public thinks they end up on a pretty farm somewhere and many don’t. They end up at a slaughterhouse and then on someone’s dinner table in Europe.” Ells said demand is rising as horsemeat is not only used in pet food but is now considered the newest delicacy in Europe after the mad-cow disease scare.
The sanctuary also takes in many injured horses that need extensive veterinary care and provides full spectrum, individualized alternative care. Once rehabilitated the horses are then re-trained and taught basic dressage, a valuable set of skills that provide a ballet-like ease for the rider, with most placed in new homes.
“We are sanctioned as an American thoroughbred rescue center and have received some of our funding from the Thoroughbred Charities of America in Santa Barbara,” said Ells, adding the center depends on volunteers to stretch the donated dollars.
For further information, visit The Equine Sanctuary at theequinesanctuary.org, or call Ells at 453-4567.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wish they could do a piece on the
changing geography of Ojai Valley.
Everytime you turn around now
there is something oversized
going up which interupts view
corridors, has traffic and
envoronmental impact. The horses
can adapt- it' all the new
human herds that are a worry! PL

Anonymous said...

"The show world has decided they are not fancying the American thoroughbred, and that’s left them without a home." What are you talking about the thoroughbred mares who are tall and good movers are in high demand to the quarter horse industry. A good horse will always have a home. It is the substandard ones who wont and I do agree that slaughter is where they should go. They are better off being killed. Than having someone who has no knowledge trying to care for them.

Anonymous said...

They are better off being killed. Than having someone who has no knowledge trying to care for them.

Thank you, God. Always nice to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

Why have them suffer many years of bad care and neglect? I'm sorry to offend you but most people do not even understand the care that these animals need or the expense that it is going to cost. Do you?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to offend you but most people do not even understand the care that these animals need or the expense that it is going to cost. Do you?

Do you?

Prove it.

While you're at it, prove that the people in the article don't know what they're doing, as you seem to be implying.

Anonymous said...

Alexis is an amazing healer. Her compassion for animals knows no bounds!I have seen her go out of her way to cure animals that are not her own.I wish all people could have this type of understanding and devotion that she shows in her everyday work.

Much love ,
Amy Weber
Oak Park , Ca

Furry Herbalist said...

Why is it that people with comments like "they are better off being killed" are ashamed to post their names? I believe it was Mark Twain who said "I have never regretted anything I didn't say!" Blogs remove that regret absolutely for those who refuse to take responsibility for their comments.

I must admit that I am appalled at how many Californians keep horses. Small dirt pens, no browse, all their natural instincts tharwted. These horses must be incredibly bored and under stimulated. Back east horses have miles of pasture, green grass and the luxury of associating with a herd.

Having said that, who is anyone to determine what a "substandard" horse is? The race industry, the show industry? The equine equivalent of the Haute Couture fashion world? Who? Our homes are populated with dogs and cats who wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell if put into a show ring, but they are loved & cherished members of families. Who cares if their legs aren't long enough, ears aren't the right shape or tail is set too low? Only the competitive "mine is better than yours" show folks are concerned with these things in dogs, cats OR horses.

These thow-away horses deserve just as much love as the flashy "perfect" show horses. Give me a "common, coarse and cobby" four-legged any day!
Hip, Hip, Hoorah for all the rescuers of any species!

B Dawson
Noah's Apothecary
Ojai, CA

Anonymous said...

For those that are following this item and waiting for the story to appear in Nat Geo, the wait is almost over. Look for the magazine near the end of October 2007.

To contribute time, goods or funds to the horse rescue effort of Ojai's own Equine Sanctuary, visit their site:

The Equine Sanctuary

The horses could use your help.