What a Difference a Year Makes!

The author of our newsletter joined J.E.E.P. one year ago. Valerie notes how “simply amazing it has been to watch the transition this project has undergone during this time. Much credit has to go to George and Loretta Leavitt for their donations and persistence. Generous ongoing donations can be credited as well. Thanks all around to everyone who has participated in this important community-wide project. The construction is first class, and the Hilltop Refugio is a “Cadillac” stable, and dog and cat refuge.”

Last year at this time, the Hilltop Refugio had the following:

  • 10-horse stable with a roof
  • Uncovered arena and small area for staging the equine therapy
  • Bathroom, tack room and food storage area

Since then, J.E.E.P. has added:

  • Both covered and sand arenas
  • Covered and enlarged equine therapy area
  • Sink and prep area for the kids’ activities
  • Three dog areas with multiple kennels
  • Gates for access to the back area for the horses
  • Large water tank
  • Concrete fencing around the entire front area with lovely bougainvilleas
  • Wood for each stall to keep horses from fighting and playing!

And now… currently under construction:

  • Covered staging area for the vets to spay and neuter, and dog washing clinics
  • Large covered and enclosed area for rescue cats
  • Enclosed dog play area for dog boarding
  • Two new bathrooms
  • Equipment shed
  • Hen house for laying hens (project of the Junior Trainers), with plans for 20 laying hens
  • The old bathrooms will become a J.E.E.P. store

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(top feature photo) New bathrooms on the left, storage shed in the middle, boarding kennels and vet area on the end. (above) Beginning of the cat house and dog run.

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Gates for access to the hill for the horses


J.E.E.P. Store: The new J.E.E.P. store will open this next season with custom t-shirts with fun new designs, bags of foods to feed the horses, dogs and cats, Hilltop Refugio and J.E.E.P. calendars, and framed pictures of some of the animals.

Are you sometimes bored during the season? We will be sponsoring Bingo this upcoming season, complete with cash bar. It will be fun for all. Put bingo on your entertainment calendar.

Mama Sedona is looking pregnant already. Her belly is expanding!

New Volunteer Activities for next season: We will be offering multiple new volunteer activities for the upcoming season, something for everyone: Bingo night, bartenders, dog walking, dog/cat kennel cleaning (our kennels are built for easy cleaning), fundraisers, dog bathing, our new store and of course all the current activities for the equine therapy and horse/stable care. Get active in the Nayarit community. The rewards are amazing!

January Fundraiser: Our ongoing annual fundraiser will include amazing food prepared by Loretta, a show facilitated by the Junior Trainers, equine girls in full riding regalia among other fun things. We will be announcing the date soon!

Fashion Show: We plan to sponsor a Contemporary Western Fashion Show featuring local teens strutting their stuff in southwest-inspired outfits! And yes, this event would not be complete without a good ole’ western BBQ prepared by Loretta. This will be a “fancy and fun” evening for all and will be held pool-side at Los Compadres Resort. Some of the parents and caregivers of the children participating in equine therapy will be speaking about their life-changing experiences with the project. The fashion show will raise funds specifically for our therapeutic horseback riding program.

Hilltop Refugio Updates

Horse Rescue and Education

Last year, J.E.E.P. sponsored shots and medicine for 33 area horses. The intent was to educate horse owners about the need for regular shots and medicine to maintain the health of their horses. This year, 18 owners returned on their own for shots and medicine. This is real progress that we are proud of.

The Junior Trainers and their Board have developed the “hen house” project. They are building a hen house to accommodate 20 laying hens. Fresh eggs will be available daily at the refugio for J.E.E.P. members at a reasonable price. The leadership skills being taught to the Junior Trainers will serve them well in the future, preparing them for jobs, while simultaneously being role models in the community for the care and treatment of animals. Kudos to the Junior Trainers!

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Christian, one of our Junior Trainers, hard at work

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The Junior Trainers found 20 of these (which were donated) which will be used by the laying hens in the hen house.

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Morning dog and cat romp. The dogs are let out for exercise every day, and the cats are free to roam.

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Early morning siesta

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Our therapeutic horseback riding program has been suspended for the season, but we have exciting plans for next season. All participants will receive new t-shirts among other fun things already listed in the past and current newsletters.

Dog and Cat Rescue/Fostering & Adoption

We are excited about the upcoming “cat house.” It will be a state-of-the art area for our rescue cats. With the addition of the dog play yard and grooming area, we will also be ready to begin dog boarding next season. This strategy will help defray some of the ongoing costs which are increasing significantly as the project grows. The dog boarding kennels will accommodate 8 dogs. Boarding fees will be reasonable and we encourage all local dog owners to board at the refugio in support of J.E.E.P., remembering that we also rescue and care for local dogs, cats, chickens and roosters. Right now, the Junior Trainers are caring for a hurt chicken.

Please remember that we still have many dogs and cats up for adoption and looking for their forever home. Think about adoption when you come down next season. These animals need the love of a “family.” Click here to view some of the J.E.E.P. rescues up for adoption.

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Morning dog greeting


Monetary Donations:

George and Loretta Leavitt:

  • Construction: $3,000 USD
  • Personnel: $450 USD
  • Boarding Income: 1 horse = $100 USD

Other Monetary:

  • Greg and Madeline Bennett Family Foundation: $200 USD
  • Donna Brownfield: $25 USD
  • Gary and Patty Wietgrefe: $1,000 pesos

Donations of Equipment and Other Items:

We didn’t have any equipment donations this month. Please start thinking about equipment you can bring down next season!

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. We’ve added dogs and cats to our cause as well. To learn more or to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) on the Jaltemba Bay Life website.

Your donations will help J.E.E.P. buy food, shelter, medication and the equipment necessary to care for the rescue horses and other animals, as well as complete the Hilltop Refugio. Remember, donations of tack and gear, both new and used are always needed and much appreciated.