Exciting things are happening with J.E.E.P. up at the Hilltop Refugio! Last month’s article provided updates on the building project at the Hilltop Refugio complete with pictures. Click here to read more J.E.E.P. news.
Now completed are 10 state-of-the-art stalls, a tack room (below), feed room and bathroom. Most of the area which will include an arena is now covered. Plans for the future include electricity, seating area for the kids and dog kennels. Most of the construction at the Refugio has been through the generous donations and hard work of George and Loretta Leavitt, year round residents. Rain or shine George is up at the Refugio. He can be found every morning with the project’s full time paid employee, Mickey, doing the construction in addition to feeding, watering, exercising, grooming and caring for the horses and cleaning the stalls. The rain has been a real challenge to maintaining dry stalls! Loretta joins George in the afternoon for the second feeding and watering of the day.
Ongoing Horse Rescue Efforts
Both the stalls at the Hilltop Refugio and property that George owns in El Monteón provide placement for the rescue horses. The horses that are gentle and can be used for the children are placed at the Rufugio and the others are in El Monteon. Since both of these locations are now full, in alignment with the goals of medical attention and educating equine owners to better care for their animals, George visits local owners with starving animals equipped with medication and food as well as education to prepare them for more humane treatment of their animals. He has also facilitated two local clinics providing the necessary vaccinations to establish and maintain the health of the horses.
Notice how healthy and fat Peso is. He was one of the rescue horses!
Equine Therapy for Disabled Children
After the horses are rescued, then what? Horses, like people, thrive when they have a purpose. The rescued horses are used for equine therapy for disabled kids. These children are drawn from all over the region and are accompanied by parents and teachers. The horses which were starving and mistreated now enjoy the attention of children and their caregivers. They are thriving accordingly. Every Wednesday, beginning again in December, children will be bused in from the schools as far away as Bucerias, or transported by parents or other caregivers to the Refugio. Up to 30 children and adults arrive weekly to spend time with the horses. The children and their caregivers are fed lunch following their time with the horses (and now the dogs as well).
Equine therapy promotes physical, occupational and emotional growth in both adults and children suffering developmental and other disabilities. Equine therapy can help children build confidence, self-efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control and learning. Part of equine therapy is introduction of touch and interaction with the horses, which is in alignment with one of our project goals as well. Disabled children in our area have few resources, with the nearest school in Las Varas. Some children are unable to attend school. Spending time with the horses meets many of the needs described. The children are delighted to participate as witnessed by their shrieks of joy and smiling faces.
The word is out among the local dog population… “Hey guys, come up to the Refugio. They feed you up there!” There are now four rescued dogs at the Refugio. Realistically the dogs are most likely being dumped. The dogs are checked out by a vet and given appropriate shots and medical attention. These are wonderful animals and available for adoption. They will also be an integral part of the children’s program teaching the children how to care for and appreciate the dogs. The dogs help meet our goal to educate community members, in this case children, about the value of animals in our lives. Many of the children who visit have not had the opportunity to own or be are around dogs. Construction of dog kennels is a future building project for fostering the ongoing arrival of dogs. Oprah (below) arrived about a month ago with mange and is being treated for it.
Victor arrived skinny and unable to gain weight. He is just now starting to recover.
Oprah arrived with mange as well (see her eye). She just completed her second shot.
Things to Bring Down When You Return!
We could use lead ropes, head sets, horse brushes, curry combs, cinches (medium to large), as well as horse shampoo and conditioner. Donations of school supplies and art materials for the special needs children who come visit are also appreciated. These are relatively small items that will fit in a suitcase.
We are always in need of contributions of feed, tack, medicine, medical supplies, money and other resources. Keep in mind that not only do the horses need feed, they must also be shoed, have regular injections and sometimes medical care. All these things cost money. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
If you like to ride, please volunteer at the Hilltop Refugio. All the horses need brushing, attention and maintenance. If you volunteer, you can go on the frequent trail rides. Get to know a special horse during your time in the region or adopt one of the rescued dogs and take it home with you!
SAVE THE DATE: November 20th
All J.E.E.P. participants who want to ride one of the rescue horses in the Revolution Day parade in La Peñita, bring a long-sleeve white shirt so we can get them all embroidered. There are also several other horses available if you want to ride.
by Valerie Bennett-Naquin
About Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.): Jaltemba Equine Education Project was established in December 2012 by George & Loretta Leavitt to help large animals like horses, donkeys and mules who are ill, malnourished or being mistreated in Jaltemba Bay, Nayarit, Mexico. To learn more or to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.)
Your donations will help J.E.E.P. buy food, shelter, medication and the equipment necessary to care for the rescue horses, as well as complete the Hilltop Refugio. Remember, donations of tack and gear, both new and used are always needed and much appreciated.