Kate Starr always had a love for horses, especially those who were mistreated, forgotten, abandoned.
So a few years ago, she decided to do something to help these horses.
“I needed a purpose,” she said. “So I decided to help find homes for these horses.”
In 2001, Starr founded Sunshine Horses Inc., a nonprofit that takes in these abused, ready-to-retire or no longer needed horses. The organization became an official nonprofit in 2003.
Right now, 28 horses are being cared for by Sunshine Horses at the Little Apple Stables on County Route 12 just west of Central Square. Starr has a waiting list and wants to increase her fold to 40 horses.
But first, she needs more volunteers. The entire organization is run by volunteers – she herself volunteers and takes no salary.
“We have about 100 volunteers on our list and about 25 to 30 are active,” Starr said. “But we need more.”
Volunteer Coordinator Nila Frerrand has been working at Sunshine Horses for four years. She has been involved with horses for years and both she and her husband Jack wanted to get involved in their retirement.
“It just warms my heart to see these horses run in the pasture,” Frerrand said.
She said she needs six volunteers for each shift in order to get all the work done. “This gives us enough to take care of the horses ad not kill ourselves,” she said.
On this particular morning, only two volunteers showed up. “The more we have, the better off we are,” she said.
There are two shifts. Volunteers are needed in the morning from about 8 or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and in the evening from 5 to 8 p.m. Starr said volunteers do whatever they feel comfortable doing. Chores that need to be done include feeding, cleaning stalls, ensuring all water buckets are filled, moving horses from stalls to pasture and back again and horse training.
And people who don’t have time to actually volunteer at the stables still can get involved by sponsoring a horse. Starr said it costs $150 a month to fully take care of a horse’s needs and all sponsors get their photos posted at the stables.
If a person cannot afford the entire $150 to care for a horse, he or she can pitch in what they can or combine with someone else for one sponsorship.
The horses at Sunshine Horses Inc. come from all walks of life.
Some are former race horses that either can’t race anymore due to injury or age or that weren’t fast enough and were being sold off.
Some of the horses were owned by people who were elderly and couldn’t care for them anymore. Some were overworked on farms. Others were being sent to the slaughterhouse.
“We never know when they are coming to us, but we know we have to help them,” Starr said. She tries to get the horses adopted to new families.
Anyone interested in volunteering at Sunshine Horses or sponsoring a horse, call or email Kate Starr, president and founder, at 729-7016 or firstname.lastname@example.org