You know when you try to do something good — really good — but all of the odds seemed stacked against you?
That’s how Diane Romano feels. She’s the founder and president of Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary in Newton, and, thanks to the pandemic, all of her fundraisers were canceled this year. But she did what no one else would do and, just before the shutdown in March, rescued three horses in dire straits. Winter is coming, and each of these horses needs a shelter. The rest of the horses at the sanctuary need hay, which has gone up sharply in price, and medicines for horses that are sick or might become sick.
Princess, Sarge, and Black Beauty were surviving, somehow, on a farm in Warwick, N.Y. Their owner had fallen too ill to care for them, and a neighbor, who knew nothing about horses, stepped in to do what she could. But their situation had already spiraled out of control. They stood in ankle-deep manure. Their water froze in the February chill.
After contacting rescues in New York and New Jersey, the Warwick Valley Humane Society was at the end of its rope: no one wanted these horses. Princess was so malnourished she was sure to perish soon. Sarge was a maniac, charging Romano whenever she visited to assess the situation. Black Beauty needed a home.
“I called around to larger sanctuaries to see if they could take the horses,” Romano said. “We’re small here and rely completely on fund-raising to exist.”
There were no takers, and some called her crazy when she decided she would figure out a way to get them to Rivers Edge.
“I couldn’t ‘un-see’ their situation,” she said. “What was I supposed to do, just wash my hands of it and walk away? I couldn’t.”
First, the horses needed water. To get to water at the Warwick farm would require a sledge hammer, and under the ice, there was sludge. Romano drove her water tank and filled troughs. She also got hay.
Transporting the horses to Rivers Edge would be no easy task. Romano’s veterinarian, Dr. Otto Brasch, would be need to administer sedation, but he was away.
“I knew if we didn’t get Princess out of there, she would die,” Romano said. “The problem was Sarge.”
The horses were penned together. Romano and a volunteer helper, Patty Taylor of Hampton, hatched a dicey plan to avoid a charge.
“We had to get through manure, two fences, and up a rocky hill,” Romano said. “The plan was contingent on Patty closing a gate and hopping a fence like she’d never hopped a fence before.”
There were some tense moments, but it worked. Princess made it to the transport vehicle and to Rivers Edge, where she received the medical attention and nourishment she needed.
“It was like she was on vacation with a clean pen and plenty of food and water,” Romano said. “But there was a look in her eye that she was glad to see the other two when they arrived.”
Once Dr. Brasch returned, they returned to Warwick to retrieve Sarge and Black Beauty.
“We absolutely had to sedate Sarge for his safety and ours, and Dr. B did a great job,” Romano said.
A second chance at life
Now, on the cusp of winter, Princess, Sarge and Black Beauty will each need a shelter. Each costs $5,000 with another $800 or so to prep the foundation. It will take $600 to $800 per week to buy the 160 bales of hay needed. Some of the older horses have special dietary requirements, and some are on medication, which means more funds needed.
Twenty eight horses dwell on the bucolic grounds of Rivers Edge, which sits right on the shores of a secluded section of the Paulins Kill River. The oldest animal is 38. Romano can’t stress enough that acquiring a horse that it is a long-term commitment
“Sometimes people buy a horse for a teenager, and that’s great,” she said. “But you have to realize, in a few years that teen will be going off to college, and that horse will be around for a long time.”
The horses at Rivers Edge are not rideable.
“These horses have been abandoned or discarded, and when everyone else had given up on them, Rivers Edge has been there to give them a second chance at a life they so deserved,” Romano said. “We need help. Anything is greatly appreciated.”
Rivers Edge is a nonprofit organization, and all who work on the farm are volunteers. The best and most efficient way to donate is through PayPal. Simply e-mail Diane@RiversEdgeHorseRescue.org.
The sanctuary is also on Amazon Smile, so if you switch from regular Amazon to Amazon Smile when ordering something from the site, a percentage will be donated to Rivers Edge. Just designate Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary as your charity. On Facebook, go to Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary and click on the big blue “donate” button.
Rivers Edge is located at 104 Halsey Road in Newton. Visits to the sanctuary to meet the horses and see the goats are available by appointment. Call 973-600-9766.
“These horses have been abandoned or discarded and when everyone else had given up on them, Rivers Edge has been there to give them a second chance at a life they so deserved. We need help. Anything is greatly appreciated.” Diane Romano, Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary