The first official fundraising event for the newly-established Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) on Wednesday, Jan. 23 was a galloping success! Coming together in less than two weeks, we weren’t sure what to expect, but simply knew we had to do our best to give our rescued herd of horses a fast and fighting chance. A handful of organizers quickly became a full-on posse of more than 25 eager volunteers, selling event tickets in advance, gathering goodies for our Silent Auction, dishing pizza, serving drinks, selling 50/50 tickets, playing music, flogging signature J.E.E.P. t-shirts and ball caps, standing by at the stables to introduce our horses to the guests, and wrapping things up with our ‘Name the Filly’ live auction finale.

Fundraiser guests ‘pony up’ to meet the horses, who were also happy to be greeted by so many curious and compassionate new friends.
(top photo) Party with a view, project with a vision. Pony Up! Fundraiser guests enjoy pizza by the pool at Los Compadres.

In addition to our on-site volunteers, more than 100 guests came up the hill to meet our equine ambassadors: Billy Biscuit, Canelo, Hermosa, Peso, and Shadow. They also met our little filly, who now has a new name, thanks to a generous winning bid of $5,700 pesos from part-time Guayabitos resident David Thompson. David gifted the naming rights to his wife Allyson Williams, who chose ‘Alma,’ an acronym to honour her godchildren, and also the Spanish word for ‘soul.’

“The way I see it, Chance saved the others,” says Allyson, speaking not about the filly, but her big brother Chance, the one in the herd that died just days after the rescue. “He was the leader of the group and will always be the ‘heart’ of this project. To me, his little sister is the ‘soul.’ She’s the one who will carry on in honor of her big brother and his spirit.”

Additional tickets were sold to folks who knew they couldn’t be at the event, but still wanted to show their support. The youngest cowboy at the party was Griffin Cormier, who presented his ‘change for Chance, chance for change’ collection of $916 pesos, gathered from classmates and friends during the past week. And Junior, another boy from the neighbourhood, was also on hand to help handle the herd, as he’s been every day since they were first brought to the hill. These kids, with their youthful enthusiasm, unconditional compassion, and unbridled faith, are the future of this project, and what the second ‘E’ in J.E.E.P. is all about.

Guest Auctioneer Dave Stevens turned his 50/50 win into a 100% jackpot for J.E.E.P.

It may have been a Silent Auction, but J.E.E.P. supporters were loud and clear with their generous bids.

Our special guest Auctioneer Dave Stevens not only volunteered his voice and professional expertise to raise more than $10,000 in the live auction, he also won the 50/50 draw and then turned right around and donated it back to the cause. Local individuals and businesses came through too, with almost 60 items up for grabs in our Silent Auction, including jewelry, home decor, art pieces, specialty food and drink items, meals at local restaurants, even the thrill of being a ‘Charra for a Day.’ On behalf of the local Escaramuza group, team leader Bertha Cueva and a companion rider were on hand to donate special sidesaddle riding lessons and a chance to join the colourful and courageous charras in the upcoming Mardi Gras Parade. Loretta Leavitt, an accomplished equestrian herself, was the highest bidder, but did so as a gift to Donna Brownfield, one of J.E.E.P.’s co-founders. Donna was the one who first found Chance and the herd out in the valley behind La Peñita last November. She’s currently back in Oregon, so wasn’t able to attend the fundraiser, but pack your boots, girl, there’s a sidesaddle waiting for you when you get back!

The final total for this kickstart event? $71,244 pesos! Thanks are not enough to everyone who helped make this last-minute last-chance fundraiser such a success. We ponied up our pesos, and we also raised awareness about this important project for the long-term. Pony Up! is over, but the vision is just beginning to come true, to save and sustain the lives and dignity of horses in Jaltemba Bay.

On behalf of J.E.E.P. and the Pony Up! team, desde nuestros caballos, y de nuestros corazones, muchas gracias!

Tracy Holmes
Event Coordinator
Pony Up! Fundraiser
Jaltemba Equine Education Project

For more information, visit the Hilltop Refugio / Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) webpage.

You can also view more event photos on the J.E.E.P. Facebook page.