Joan Steelhammer has been a real estate broker for 38 years, but 13 years ago she was able to make her passion for horses a reality. She adopted horses deemed unsalvageable in a wild horse round up, leading her to found Equine Outreach.
"I still have some of my members that I rescued—some were old to begin with, but I never had disabled, blind, and starving horses," she says.
Equine Outreach is a horse rescue and sanctuary, and operates solely from the assistance of volunteers. Steelhammer has taken in wild horses, horses bound for slaughter, some seized from a race horse scam, and she once brought in a herd of 40 plus horses—all of which were pregnant.
"It's been quite a challenge. We save them, rehab them, train and then adopt them out," she says.
Steelhammer also has volunteers who work with people with disabilities, young adults, and kids with Asperger's, to help them have unique horse encounters of their own. She says horses are therapeutic and "the minute they get there there's something the horse does for them."
The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries—a rare accreditation that Steelhammer is proud of and refers to as the PhD of sanctuary recognitions, has certified Equine Outreach.
Around 80 horses currently roam the sanctuary grounds, but Steelhammer would like to get the number down to 50. The nonprofit works closely with anyone interested in adoption whether they have no experience or are current owners or riders. They always need hay and feed, but Steelhammer says they'll accept any type of donations. They've taken items like an old car and a sauna and sold them to "turn them into hay money."
Equine Rescue is also looking for volunteers willing to brush, play with, or to just spend time with the horses. "They need a lot of attention," she says. More information can found at equineoutreach.com