There’s No Place Like Hope

by Alicia Doyle

The Hope Family Picnic and Hoedown will raise awareness of the importance of horses and the need to protect them from harm — while raising funds for rescue organizations that are struggling financially to meet the rising costs and needs of equine care.

“There are hundreds of Facebook pages dedicated to saving horses from auction and the kill buyers, or from holding pens where they wait in uncertainty to see what their future will hold,” said Kimme Isaiah Black, founder and producer of the event titled There’s No Place Like Hope, Family Picnic and Hoedown.

“My heart is continually broken for these poor loving souls who have no idea what is happening to them,” Black said. “The image of a gentle giant, walking gracefully onto a horse trailer because their owner or handler has asked them to, not knowing the destination of that trailer … it’s a tragically poignant image for me and is the fuel that keeps me pouring on the fire to fight this horrific injustice.”

The picnic will take place on May 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Santa Rosa Valley Park, 10241 Hill Canyon Road. Event highlights include equine performances by the War Horse & Militaria Heritage Foundation, Valley View Vaulters and West Coast Friesians Unlimited. The Gentle Carousel Mini Therapy Horses will be on site, as well as the Kidsville Childrens Activity Village that will feature Love on a Leash therapy dogs.

“Another big part of the picnic is Rosemary Allison, and Mark Burley’s Old Fashioned Pie Auction, now famous for the caterers and individuals who bake especially for the picnic,” Black said. “Rosemary is the hostess of this attraction and usually gets well over 50 pies each year to sell.”

Two authors are also scheduled to be in attendance, Robin Hutton, author of Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse; and Dena Mercer, author of Campfires Remembered, a memoir of packing mules in the Sierras for 20 summers. 

The event will also recognize the work of Tedi Tate and her Warhorse Alliance and Steeds of Light.

“The warhorse work is with veterans who come home with PTSD, and the Steeds of Light division is with battered women,” Black said.

“We will also have a section of the park roped off for a meet-and-greet for all these groups where everyone is welcome to come, see and pet the horses and ask questions of their riders and handlers,” Black said. “Additionally, two members of the mounted police force will be riding around at the picnic to say hello to everyone.”

The event itself is not an organization or legally recognized entity, Black explained.

“It’s so far been a neighborhood event, with about 2,500 visitors a year, that raises funds for other organizations,” she said.

This year’s event will benefit The Saffyre Sanctuary, Inc., located in Lake View Terrace in Sylmar.

Saffyre Sanctuary is a rescue and rehabilitation program that cares for horses that have been abandoned, abused or neglected, said Esta G. Bernstein, founder, president and CEO.  

“By allowing them to rediscover their true nature, we provide every opportunity for them to experience the possibility of enjoying a second career, or offer them a well-deserved retirement due to soundness issues, age or owner hardships,” Bernstein said.

Donations are the lifeblood of the nonprofit organization, Bernstein further emphasized. 

“As a 100 percent volunteer organization, all funds donated to Saffyre Sanctuary go for the care and rehabilitation of the horses that currently serve in our programs,” Bernstein said. “Saffyre Sanctuary specializes in rescuing horses that would have no other chance of being saved.  These horses are ones that have behavior issues, or are in need of a lengthy recovery and complex rehabilitation procedures. Our focus on quality, not quantity, enables us to give the horses in our care the very best chance of complete physical, mental and emotional recovery.”

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