Helping large animals that are in obvious distress has been a dream of George Leavitt’s for quite some time. You may know George and his wife Loretta from Los Compadres Resort, Restaurant & Bar in La Peñita or seen their horses whose stalls are located at the far end of their parking lot. George’s love of horses and his love of Mexico have been combined for at least 35 years. But this really isn’t a story about George, it’s about his dream…

The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” came to George about two weeks ago when Donna, another horse enthusiast, contacted him after going for a horseback ride with a friend behind La Peñita and along the river, where she spotted a herd of horses. The horses were extremely emaciated, and they even noticed a horse carcass plainly visible laying amongst the rocks at the shore of the river. Inconceivable to this rider was the fact that there was new fencing and newly planted agave plants, but there was absolutely nothing for the seven animals to eat! She knew something had to be done about this!

Donna decided to speak with George, a person she knew loved horses and spoke English, and someone she knew she could tell her tale of horror to. This was the “straw” George needed! This was the moment that gave him the green light to start putting together a group of like-minded individuals; People who want to help horses and other equines in need in the Jaltemba Bay area. Donna has even thought of a great group name, “Jaltemba Equine Education Project” or JEEP for short!

NOTE: The following photos show horses in very poor physical health and there will be one photo of a horse carcass. These photos are here to show the animals’ plight, and are not intended to reflect on the owner. Photos courtesy of Dan Cormier.

The next day George took a bag of feed to the horses. A note was also posted on the Jaltemba Bay Folk Forum with a plea for like-minded people to attend a meeting about getting some feed to these poor creatures. An effort was made to find out more about why these horses were kept without food, and to find their owner.

A very thin Appaloosa standing amongst the new agave plants.

A closer view of the Appaloosa’s prominent hip and vertebra bones practically sticking through its skin.

The pickings are slim for these poor horses.

A yearling foal is one of the victims too.

There is still some life behind those eyes. Let’s keep it there!

We want to save the other animals from a similar fate.

To date, there have been three meetings held for those wanting to learn more about these horses, and interested in helping George begin working on his dream of creating a group whose focus would be to help equines in need (equines includes horses, donkeys and mules). Some points that have been discussed and determined to be important: 1) to help equine owners understand and realize the full value of their animals and why it is to their benefit to keep them healthy, 2) to educate children about why large farm animals, such as equines, are important to this agricultural area, 3) create opportunities for children to spend quality time with equines, and 4) to help the owners of these animals understand that equines can be enthusiastic and willing partners if only given the chance.

George wants to give these animals and their owners that chance. He owns approximately 3 acres on the hill near his restaurant in La Peñita that could be used as a rescue site. He would like to name it “Hilltop Refugio.” There, he could give rescued animals much needed feed and water, medical care and the attention they deserve. Once the refuge is in place, the general public would be welcome to come by to see the animals and will actually be encouraged to do so.

George has acquired the necessary information to purchase these animals from the owner. This is really the only option for removing these animals from their present location. Removing them by force would only cause bad feelings and negativity towards the large animal rescue group. The cost could be as high as $20,000 pesos for the seven animals that are now there. They will require vaccinations and parasite medication immediately so that any contagions are not spread to them or by them. This will cost approximately $750 pesos each.

For more information, you are welcome to attend discussions that are currently set up for Monday afternoons at 4pm at Los Compadres Restaurant. You can contact George by phone (322) 150-0553 or email

If anyone cares to make a contribution to the welfare of these animals, an account has been opened in George Leavitt’s name at La Casa del Ganadero on Calle Esteban Baca Calderon #3, La Peñita which is the vet clinic and feed store owned and operated by Dr. Eladio Arreola Tello, (327) 274-0973. A bag of feed costs $125 pesos and the horses are currently being given a bag of feed every other day. Any amount donated will go towards purchasing a bag of feed for these horses.

About the Author: Tosia Archer spends her winter living near El Tonino (a 20 minute drive north from La Peñita) along with her husband David and their Mexican adopted pets: dogs Agua Chili Bob and Momz, and their cat Blanca. They all travel south together by truck from Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada each fall and return there to work each spring. She enjoys photographing local wildlife and flowers, whale watching and then rendering what she has seen into watercolour art. She volunteers with JBAR and is a member of the Guayabitos Artists Collective and Writers Who Love Mexico. Tosia is also part of the Jaltemba Bay Life Team.

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