Rescue the Rescue!
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Recently, a 5 year old Andalusian was surrendered into Sonoma Equine Rescue, Rehab and Adoption (“SERRA”). She was underweight at 880 pounds and not in good physical condition having not been fed or exercised regularly in her immediate past. Please see screenshot at Beauty's Adoption Page pulled from SERRA's website here.
After only four weeks at the rescue, Marjorie McCoy, the new President of the Board of Directors (with no horse experience and who has never even owned a horse) asked trainer Bill Schneurle from Arkansas, now transplanted to Sonoma County to just saddle up and test ride this new rescue horse who is an undernourished, underweight and out of shape mare named Bambi (now renamed Beauty.)
So, without a prior veterinary examination of the mare's present physical and medical state, Marjorie asked a trainer to just 'get on' this horse and ‘look under the hood’ as the trainer said. And he did. Without doing enough proper ground work to gain the mare’s trust, Billy did the stupid cowboy thing and gave her a ‘test ride’ in the old style of ‘breaking’ or 'raping’ the horse. No prior and proper preparation. Just bullying the mare.
In self-preservation, the mare bucked, reared, bit at his leg in her only way to fiercely communicate to ‘get off my back”. She was clearly in defensiveness from pain and being scared by him. Then at the end of the incident, he pulls her back over when she rears and the mare slams her vertebrae column into the ground. That’s painful. She could end up with painful kissing spine arthritis and that ends her future as a riding horse!
She’s a thin horse and Bill’s a big tall guy and must weigh 200 or more pounds with clothing and boots and plus the weight of the western saddle and pad of approximately 40 pounds. That’s 240 pounds of weight!
The volunteers and even a retired trainer who boarded at the facility were shocked at what they witnessed. The retired trainer stated that Bill Schnuerle weighed too much for the thin horse. One new volunteer was voice recorded giggling at the end of the video in nervous anxiety as she didn’t know what to do and knew this was all wrong and very disturbing.
Any vet would have told you not to put weight on the back of this unfit horse. Instead a vet would recommend SERRA conduct a planned nutritional program of weight gain, and physical muscling (especially across the back and haunches) for the mare to have the ability to eventually carry an adult rider’s weight.
If a rider goes beyond the 20% rule, an 880 pound horse should not carry more than 176 maximum (https://www.horsesciencenews.com/horseback-riding/how-much-weight-can-a-horse-carry.php). If a rider goes over that limit, they are inviting a pain reaction. Bucking, rearing, biting, just like we would be screaming out if someone over-weighted our own body and we were not prepared or capable to carry such weight.
Now they have mentally conditioned this mare that a saddle and a rider are something to fear and to defend herself against. That’s the problem with the old fashioned cowboy ‘breaking' stupidity. Instead of carefully gaining the horse’s trust, step-by-step, in slow stages, making the horse ready for the rider, the horse is raped of its dignity and trust in humans. Just how is this going to help get the horse adopted out? Also, this might lead to an unsuspecting adopter paying the price in getting really hurt or even killed when they are bucked off.
Now someone has to spend hundreds hours of positive behavioral conditioning to counteract the mare’s newly learned behavior of self-preservation. Yes, that’s pretty stupid of this new President of a rescue. Everyone has time to re-do a behavioral pattern but no one wants to take the time to do it well the first time!
This 'rescue' failed this young horse so miserably. This happened under the rescue's leadership ‘watch’. As a rescue they are supposed to be the horse’s advocate, not abusers. They need to be held to a higher humane standard of care and training. This is clearly NOT it.
“Horsemanship can be obtained naturally through communication, understanding and psychology versus mechanics, fear and intimidation.” The old cowboy ways of raping or breaking the spirit of the horse are over. We use intelligence and patience and develop the horse slowly. Instead Marjorie, SERRA’s President and Cathy Spratling, SERRA’s co-founder and BOD member, stated to volunteers that “The horse wasn’t hurt.”, that “It’s okay”, and that “The horse is just fine.” On and on placating concerned volunteers and now letting them go for having humane concern and opposition to their point of view. It’s a travesty. All because Marjorie and Cathy don’t want to be criticized and keep a higher moral humane standard!
As volunteers we are appalled and disgusted. This reminds us of The Lucifer Effect that Rick Gore did a two-part series on. (Part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-4DwOauRGI; Part Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ3WlWM0lGc) The President and board member told volunteers that the horse was fine and there was nothing wrong with the incident. Really? So the hero rescuers become the abusers now? NO. Stand up with us now!
We demand that the new President and the Board of Directors submit their resignations immediately. Please sign this petition and share it, along with the video of Beauty's first ride (https://youtu.be/CAqlrbLK3kA) with your friends, family and fellow animals lovers and and use your good strong commentary to help us spread the word about what is going on at SERRA. This rescue needs to be rescued!
Concerned Former SERRA Volunteers
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