Monday, March 18 was a special day for the Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) team. During the past few weeks, George and Loretta Leavitt and their dedicated volunteers have been busy constructing stables at the new Hilltop Refugio in La Peñita. This donated 3-acre property is being developed into a permanent place for rescued equines, and the stables needed to be built to provide shelter for the horses before the hot and rainy summer weather arrives.
Several volunteers, including Donna Brownfield who flew in from Oregon the day before, arrived at Los Compadres Resort for a meeting. George surprised them all when he informed them “today, we’re heading up the hill.” Two by two, volunteers led Alma, Billy Biscuit, Canelo, Hermosa and Shadow (pictured above) up the hill to their new home.
Since being rescued on January 5, the horses have put on some weight and are starting to get their new coats, and George decided that they were finally healthy enough to make the trip up the hill. The new stables are open and bright, and are lined with bougainvilleas and palm trees along the back. The lucky horses and all their visitors are sure to enjoy the incredible views of the entire Bay of Jaltemba on one side and the agricultural valley on the other. Next, volunteers will need to finish building the fence to secure the property. Funds are still needed to complete this phase of the project, in addition to the $1,400 USD per month required for feed, tack and ongoing medical care.
Once the refuge is completed, the general public can visit the site and help care for these animals. The long-term plan is to break in these horses and use them as part of J.E.E.P.’s educational program for adults and children in the community.
As volunteer Rob Erickson said, “Our leader, George Leavitt, was like a proud papa as the horses and Honey, a JBAR rescue dog, were each introduced to their new home. For George and Loretta, you can tell this is a dream solving a problem that needed attention many years ago. This was a great effort by many northerners and locals. There is still more to be done, and there are plans for more local involvement as many of us northerners head to our summer lives.”
To learn more, visit the Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) webpage. You can make a donation there as well.