There’s a special lady who is a kindred spirit with graceful, majestic equine beings who were once abandoned. She loves horses. So much so that in 2010 this horse whisperer had had it with seeing so many horses abandoned only to perish in all sorts of horrible ways.
Her name is Diane Romano, and she runs Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary now, in wake of COVID, basically as a one-person show. Her trusty friend Paul shows up to help once or twice a week, but with supply chain forcing cost for feed and hey to quadruple, this equine angel and her sanctuary need help.
A big part of the problem is the facade that owning, boarding and caring for a horse is fun and easy. For horse lovers, it is fun, but it’s far from easy and requires a lot more time and money than most realize.
“Far too often a kid will want a horse,” Romano said. “It all sounds great at first, the parents or parent (many times this happens in a divorce situation) buy a horse, find boarding and the plan is for the child to ride and enjoy the horse. That’s great, but too many times, after a few months or years, reality sets in. Children grow up and have so much going on in their lives these days that making time to groom, feed and ride their horse often falls by the wayside and the horses become surrenders.”
The sanctuary sits on a parcel of land with fields for the horses to roam right on the shores of a babbling brook portion of the Paulins Kill River just west of the twin bridges on Halsey Road.
“It’s truly a sanctuary for them,” said visitor Trudy Parton. “The grounds are the perfect place for these horses to live out a vibrant life.”
Romano wants more visitors and used to host birthday parties and events.
“Those had to stop due to COVID but I hope they will be coming back soon,” she said. “The children love meeting the horses and their parents too. And the horses sure love meeting them.”
Then there’s the big red barn that sits about 100 meters from the river at the far end of the sanctuary. With the right help and some TLC, the barn space could host parties, events and smaller weddings with great country charm and flare. It’s brilliantly appointed with a raised wooden section that could serve as a dance floor and lots of country/farm style decorations and features.
Paul Parker has been volunteering his time for the past seven years at Rivers Edge.
“I’m in my 70s, but I can still do a lot to help with mucking, hauling and whatever is needed,” he said. “When I found out about this place and saw it, I couldn’t believe it was real. Diane does so much for these beautiful animals.”
One of the most compelling stories that has fallen upon Rivers Edge is that of Princess, Sag and Black Beauty. They’re thriving now at the sanctuary, but it was nip and tuck a few years ago.
“They were barely surviving on a farm in New York state,” Romano said. “Their owner had become too ill to care for them.”
The horses persevered in ankle-deep manure, and it was February so their water had frozen. After contacting rescues in New York and New Jersey, the Humane Society was at the end of its rope: no one wanted these horses. Princess was so malnourished she’d surely perish soon, Sarg was a maniac, charging Romano when she went to assess the situation, and Black Beauty simply 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.”
The first order of business was getting the horses fresh water, so Romano, with the help of friends, transported a tank from Rivers Edge. After that and a lot of tense moments, they got Princess, who was in the worst of shape, out and with the help of veterinarian, Dr. Brasch, the other two followed suit.
“It was like they were on vacation when they got here,” Romano said. “But when winter came, each needed shelters which cost $5,000 and then $800 to prepare a foundation.”
That was before COVID. Now, 21 horses, including these three, reside on the banks of the Paulins Kill.
“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 They need vet care, feed and hey. We need help,” Romano said. “Anything is greatly appreciated.”
Rivers Edge is a 501(c)3 and all who work on the farm are volunteers which are greatly needed. 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 designated charity. On Facebook, go to Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary and click on the big blue ‘donate’ button on the upper right. Vemo is also accepted as are good old fashioned checks made out to Rivers Edge. They can be mailed to 104 Halsey Road , Newton, NJ 07860 Newton. Visits to the sanctuary to meet the horses and see the other animals and grounds are available by appointment. Call (973) 600-9766.
A sign in the big red barn says “Believe” in big letters. Romano truly believes, that with help, the sanctuary can make it.