And indeed, a horse who bears himself proudly is a thing of such beauty and astonishment that he attracts the eyes of all beholders. No one will tire of looking at him as long as he will display himself in his splendor ~ Xenophon
Just north of the sleepy town of Historic Oakland, Ore., a horse refuge quietly works to rescue abused, abandoned, and neglected animals by providing them a safe home on its 1,120-acre facility. This equine utopia is the Duchess Sanctuary.
Established in 2008, the Duchess Sanctuary strives to provide a safe environment for its herd of nearly 200 to thrive in. Its website states, “the sanctuary is committed to providing the highest standards of equine care and basic loving kindness that these horses—and any future residents—deserve.”
The sanctuary is located on a beautiful piece of land that offers spanning views of local rolling hills and distant mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest. A recent trip to the Duchess Sanctuary’s open house on May 21 allowed me to witness first hand the high level of care these beautiful animals receive and to see these prodigious horses interact with the public.
If anything can be more impressive than the horses, it may be the staff and the facility itself. The employees and volunteers are all friendly, and they genuinely seem to really enjoy their work. Evidence of their hard work can be seen throughout the sanctuary. The grounds and any ancillary structures are meticulously maintained.
A particularly significant building is the hospital barn for animals with long-term ailments or injuries. This stable is a top-notch facility that provides a great space for equines with “special needs” to heal.
Most of the horses at the sanctuary are rescued from the pregnant mare urine (PMU) industry. PMU refers to the practice of harvesting urine from pregnant mares for pharmaceutical development. Critics of the PMU program argue that the treatment of horses is inhumane, while supporters counter that the industry offers invaluable aide in treating human illness and disease.
Some residences of Duchess Sanctuary have tremendously inspiring stories of survival.
A blind horse named Nellie survived an extremely harsh case of abuse and neglect. Sanctuary staff said it was one of the worse cases they have ever seen. When she was rescued Nellie was starved and near death. Today Nellie is paired with a horse named Herbie who acts as her “guide horse.” The two are best friends and virtually inseparable. Nellie appears to be healthy and happy at the refuge. She is quite popular with visitors and the attention she gets is welcomed in her own shy way.
All of the animals at the Duchess Sanctuary are well cared for. The pastures are filled with comfortable looking horses freely roaming the acreage. The overall health of the horses on site is impressive. The medical attention alone that the facility provides is remarkable.
If you’re an equestrian fan and in the area, it’s a safe bet that you will enjoy an afternoon at the horse sanctuary. Just be advised that the Duchess Sanctuary operates on a “by appointment only” basis, so plan your trip ahead of time.