In their previous life, the horses that call Sunrise home were often severely neglected, abused and abandoned, sometimes found starving and alone. But once they arrive at Sunrise Horse Rescue, they begin a new chapter — one where they receive plenty of food, high-quality veterinary care and perhaps most important, boundless love.
Each horse has its own heart-wrenching story. Pace was a packhorse used to carry tourists’ gear in and out of the Grand Canyon under appalling conditions of abuse and starvation. “When we got him, he was skin and bone, hundreds of pounds underweight, covered in terrible sores, infected with parasites and pneumonia,” recalls Lindsay Merget, managing director for Sunrise Horse Rescue. Once well enough to travel, Pace was transported to his new home at the Napa, Calif., stable. “Despite everything he went through at the hands of humans, Pace will greet anyone who comes to his stall,” Lindsay says. “It’s a testament to his forgiving nature that he gave us a second chance to do right by him.”
Sunrise Horse Rescue was founded to save horses like Pace, but along the way its mission grew. Now the non-profit also provides a place where community members of all ages can learn life-enhancing skills, all while caring for the rescued horses. “Our primary goal is to save these horses, but what ends up happening is they save us,” Lindsay says.
Highly intuitive by nature, horses are quick to recognize and react to human’s nonverbal cues. “If a person is anxious and nervous, the horse will mirror that back,” Lindsay explains, noting the growing use of horses as therapy animals.
Groups from around the region come to visit the non-profit, from developmentally disabled adults to Boy and Girl Scout troops. At Sunrise, they learn to care for, groom and walk the rescued horses – and along the way, gain firsthand appreciation for the magnificent animals. “Horses have so much more value than what society has historically assigned them,” Lindsay insists. At Sunrise, volunteers and visitors experience that value every day.