Humorist and entertainer Will Rogers once quipped, “You know horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people.” Indeed, it is sometimes the choices their owners make that put these majestic creatures in jeopardy of having their lives ended too soon. One volunteer organization in southern California is working to rescue horses whose owners have neglected them or chosen to have them sent to slaughterhouses.
Hanaeleh – pronounced “Hah-nah-lee” and named after the fictional land in the renowned folk song “Puff the Magic Dragon” – is a grassroots organization run by volunteers that takes in horses who are abused, abandoned or in danger of being put down. The organization helps find new homes for horses when their owners are unable to do it themselves, due to circumstances ranging from divorce and bankruptcy to the death of an owner.
In its 10-year history, Hanaeleh has rescued and rehabilitated more than 50 horses, and has helped match more than 100 horses with new homes via courtesy postings. The organization offers a clinic every month at its Trabuco Canyon ranch so the community can learn to work with horses. Hanaeleh’s leadership also does advocacy work to push for more stringent legislation that protects against equine cruelty.
Hanaeleh started with one horse, housed in a public stable. The cause has now grown to host 12 horses, three chickens, three sheep and four feral cats on-site on a private, two-acre ranch, maintained by a steady volunteer base of more than 20 individuals who perform duties ranging from data entry to grooming horses. The organization receives support from area tack and feed shops, equestrian teams, ranch suppliers and others united in their passion for horses.