On one of my first trips to Mexico in the early 1980s, I was quite shocked to see the condition of some of the street animals. This prompted me to get involved with our local spay and neuter clinics for dogs and cats, through Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR). I guess it was only a matter of time for this concern to move into another species: horses. Even though I knew nothing about horses, other than the odd horse-back ride over the years, I thought: Why not try something different?
Seven horses were purchased from a local rancher by a newly formed group, Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) The horses were moved onto a borrowed field close to our home next door to Los Compadres Restaurant in La Peñita, under the initiative of Los Compadres owners George and Loretta Leavitt. Through the efforts of many volunteers and the efforts of local vets, the horses are improving every day. I encourage you to take a look at updates on the J.E.E.P. Facebook page to see how things are improving for this group of horses. The J.E.E.P. Fundraiser “Pony Up” a few weeks ago raised over $71,000 pesos, so people are certainly speaking with their actions as well as with their wallets.
What really interests me in this group is the involvement of local vets and local people. A neighbourhood farmer offered his corn field for temporary grazing. Through George Leavitt, the local Charros became interested in the project and offered a “Charra for a Day” or a day of training with the local Charras, as part of the Live Auction at the “Pony Up” fundraiser. Local Las Varas vet, Medico Hilde, has offered his services for free other than the cost of medications for the horses.
At a local primary school, one young student took the initiative to start a donation jar to help the horses and made a presentation on the project to his class. With spare change and snack money, the class raised over $900 pesos.
One component of the project is education of local families and children of the importance of horse care in the farming community. We already have a few local boys regularly showing up to work with the horses. As expected, one local rancher wanted to know if J.E.E.P. wanted to buy more “skinny horses.” As an alternative, the rancher was offered anti-parasite and other medications as well as advice on horse care. In return, he offered to help clear the field where the horses will eventually be kept. In an area where time is abundant for most, though funds are scarce, this is a perfect option. It also promotes local involvement, rather than a welfare project put together by northerners. Local brick manufacturers can use the manure in the making of new bricks. There is hope that local farmers or those interested in horses might one day “adopt” one of the horses, though the horse will remain under J.E.E.P. ownership, to ensure the group still has a say on the horse’s well-being.
For myself, it has been a great learning experience. The J.E.E.P. volunteers are looking forward to growth of the Hilltop Refugio site, and new ideas are coming in every day. The latest? Does anyone want to buy a sack of horse manure for the garden? We seem to have a great supply!
To learn more about the J.E.E.P. project, visit the Hilltop Refugio / Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) webpage. You can make a donation to the organization there as well.
You can also visit the J.E.E.P. Facebook page.
About the Author: Rob Erickson, his wife Heather and their rescue cat Mayo, spend half the year living on Vancouver Island, BC. and the other half in the Jaltemba Bay area of Mexico, where they enjoy the warm weather and slower pace of life. Now that Rob has finished building their new house in La Peñita, he can be found mountain biking around the area, volunteering at the JBAR spay and neuter clinics and relaxing in his Mexican-style hammock.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in and share information, stories or photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com