Welcome to Pony Up Rescue Collective, a grassroots non-profit entering our second year, with nine horses and ponies thus far saved from slaughter (three successfully rehabbed into adopted riding ponies, and one rehomed as a companion).
This emergency fundraiser is for #9, a little fellow we are calling Sherman, who needs a holiday miracle. This pony almost made the farrier cry. He has been through *hell* but remains stoicly cheery and determined to survive. He is about 30 years old and arrived Friday, December 15h with driving shoes still on from being in work recently, thrush having rotted all the way up through his feet, emaciated and dehydrated. His terrible teeth prevented him from being able to eat (despite efforts), and gave him chronic choke. He was dying from Potomac Fever. Emergency medical care cleared the choke and treated the Potomac, dehydration and diarhhea, but also led to pneumonia and more emergency vet care. Add to that a bad eye (that thankfully is not painful, but needs removal) and an infected tooth.
Why not euthanize, you ask?
Sherman is so full of fight and will to live, it is palpable. He nickers when you call him, follows anyone who shows kindness, and plunges his face into the food bucket. He is cuddly, bright-eyed, and desperate to eat! His ears are up, he tries to escape and eat grass in the sunshine - he wants life!
What's the bill, though?
Sherman is looking at a 4k bill, as he has had two big vet visits, needs a follow up and a second dental, followed by an offsite eye enucleation. An angel donor paid his bail and Pony Up Rescue Collective stepped in from there. We are over capacity but made room anyway, and we are asking for everybody who can to pitch in a little something for Sherman's medical bills.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know how good it feels to hug a horse. They mirror our energy, look to us for guidance but require trust, forgive easily, and their only demand is that we be in the present moment with them. To save a horse from the slaughter pipeline is all of that plus seeing them rediscover the will to live. It is magical to be part of their individual journeys, and I hope you will join me- not just by donating, but by visiting, following along online, and sharing in their newfound affection, joy, and contentment.
Pony Up's collective-style rescue program saves, rehabilitates, and trains slaughter-bound horses for adoption and therapeutic programming. Currently, we have six rescues in various stages of rehab and training. They rely on “rescue teams” of sponsors and donors to sustain them. Our goal is to increase access to these horses, particularly for those who are traditionally excluded from the benefits of horse experience. We strive to do the utmost good with every dollar donated, and to share with you the process and progress.
We operate as a 501(c)(3) through 501 fiscal sponsorship from our parent foundation, Chappy & Friends, out of Roseview Farm in Tivoli, NY. Don’t be shy! Visit, volunteer, ask for photos, and please consider a sustaining monthly donation.
Kelsey Merrow, founder
HOW IT WORKS
We know that many people wish they could rescue horses, but aren't equipped to do so alone. Pony Up Rescue offers personalized, team-style horse rescue, one horse at a time, while providing logistical and training support. The model is one of collaborative rescue, wherein each horse or pony is supported by a “rescue team” that is encouraged to get involved, hands-on, in a variety of ways. Each horse or pony that Pony Up rescues is supported for one year by a dedicated team of donors. The "Rescue Team" members commit to at least $10 per month.
WHAT WE NEED NOW
HELP HORSES... Firstly, we need sustainers and sponsors to support our current rescues through their rehabilitation and training process at the current facility. Please consider a recurring contribution! Through our 501 fiscal sponsorship agreement, we receive 92% of all donations, all of which go to directly benefit the horses. The remaining 8% go to the administrative and tax support given on our behalf by Chappy & Friends.
WHAT COMES NEXT
HELP PEOPLE... Secondly, we aim to serve the community and pursue related grant funding as an independent 501(c)(3). This entails both registering as our own non-profit (we currently have 501 fiscal sponsorship) and securing a partner facility out of which to run community programming.
Pony Up’s long-term goal is to create year-round equine opportunities for people who need them using rescued horses, and to increase access to the therapeutic benefits of horses. There is much to be done, but we have all of the energy, ability, and commitment to get there, with your support.
CURRENT RESCUE HORSES
We currently have six rescues in rehabilitation and training, each of them getting friendlier, happier, and more adoptable with each passing day. All of them love visitors, and Pearl and Potato are ready for children of their own to free-lease them (a potential step towards adoption).
13.0hh 20ish dark bay pony mare. An October 2023 rescue, "Penny From Heaven" was named by the Ulster County 4-H's Animal Whisperers Club. Broke to drive and ride, she had been sold, scared and in rough shape, to a kill buyer. Pony Up Rescue found her on a week-long reprieve at a bailout, in need of immediate medical attention.
Penny is scheduled for necessary eye surgery later this month. Her superficial cuts and puncture wound have healed, but even with ongoing treatment, her left eye requires that she ship to New England Equine Practice for a surgical procedure. Additionally, although both Penny's feet and overall mobility are improving steadily, she has ongoing discomfort in her neck/shoulder that requires x-rays.
One of our two October rescues is a 2.5-year-old, 14.0hh (and growing) gray leopard appaloosa mare. She was a neglect case from North Carolina who was severely underweight and terribly wormy, but also kind and gentle.
Moomin joined the herd in Tivoli, NY after an angel donor paid her bail and initial quarantine fees. With daily handling and care, she has gained weight and learned to pick up her feet, wear a bridle and saddle, and has begun longe work. She is slowly building strength towards starting under saddle in the spring or summer.
14.2hh, 11-yr-old dappled bay Morgan cross gelding. Suspected driving pony. Auctioned in Ohio and bought by a kill buyer.
Rescued in August, Gus turned out to have advanced high ringbone in the right front pastern, a painful degenerative arthritic condition. The first vet suggested euthanasia, but the second opinion vet pointed out that the joint was already 75% fused and recommended giving him a chance. (If fused completely, the pain will potentially clear up and Gus could be sound enough to ride.) Post-Depo Medrol joint injection, dental care, vaccinations, deworming, farrier care and diet adjustment, Gus has improved and is much more comfortable. A friendly, willing fellow, he has done extensive groundwork and [very] light longeing. A long-term rehab case, Gus recently found a contracted companion home so as to free up space for another life to be saved.
13.3hh, 11-yr-old vision-impaired chestnut Quarter Pony gelding. Former Amish cart pony sold at auction to a kill buyer.
Sweet Potato, our foundation pony, is now “legally” blind. When he was rescued, his double cataracts rendered him completely blind in the left eye and partially blind in the right. We fundraised for cataract surgery that took place at Cornell in February, 2023. The procedure seemed to have restored his vision until infection and glaucoma developed. In April, the left eye had to be removed. Subsequently, the right eye cataract matured, blocking his remaining vision completely but for a few shadows. Potato is athletic, trusting, brave and in good spirits, as well as beautifully trained on the flat. Potato would make a wonderful dressage pony, and is looking for a child of his own. He loves visitors, snacks, and hugs. Reach out if you would like to visit!
13.0hh, 11-yr-old chestnut pony mare, breed unknown. Neglected, sick, starving, injured and sold at auction to one kill buyer in West Virginia, then another in Ohio.
Against the odds, Pearl is well underway to being not only an adoptable kids pony, but potentially a little show pony. Deemed unhandled by the bailout where she had been given a week’s reprieve, she began quarantine emaciated, wormy, and suffering from a lung infection and newly blinded right eye. Under saddle since June, Pearl now has her canter leads and is on her way to becoming a competitive sport pony of some kind. Eager to please, affectionate, hard-working and soft in the bridle, she is available for free lease to the right child / home. Pearl is seeking a child of her own, and loves visits, being groomed and handled. Please reach out if you would like to take part!
15.1 1/2hh, late teenage sooty buckskin Quarter Horse cross gelding. Beautifully-trained ranch horse in need of managed care. Sold at auction, location unknown, to a Kansas-based kill pen.
Oliver was rescued in June 2023 by an individual sponsor who decided to put him in the hands of Pony up until such time as he is adopted. Easy to ride and a perfect gentleman, Ollie was chosen to be a light trail riding horse. It took time to unravel his comprehensive issues, but he was ultimately diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease driving low-level laminitis. With the Cushing’s under control with medication, he is now rehabbing from the laminitis in the hopes that ultimately he can be a lovely low level lesson or therapeutic horse. Previously quite shy, Oliver has come to love visitors, cookies, and being groomed. You are welcome to come spend time with him. Get in touch!
15.3hh 18-yr-old dark bay TB or STB cross gelding. Rescued from a bail-out in Virginia in December, 2023.
Support a Local, Grassroots Non-Profit
Pony Up Rescue is small, energized, flexible and transparent. With roots in Connecticut and New York, we are dedicated to collaboration with other local non-profits, rescues and educators, and believe that engaging the community is the best path to progress. Kelsey’s background in hands-on, comprehensive horsemanship in both the competitive and recreational riding worlds is the basis for the Pony Up Rescue framework, built on community, therapy, equity, and education, and steeped in a great love for horses. Pony Up Rescue takes your support seriously and welcomes your feedback and involvement.
Raised in the hunter/jumper world, Kelsey received a comprehensive and varied equine education and has ridden professionally for 20 years. With life-long experience, a compassionate approach to both horse and rider, and a passion for horse rescue, she founded Pony Up in 2022.
Who are these slaughter-bound horses?
Generally speaking, rescue horses tend to fall into three categories: elderly ones needing a soft landing and sanctuary; unhandled or green youngsters and prospects; and sick, malnourished, abandoned and/or injured riding horses needing rehabilitation and refreshers. They include all manner of riding horses from ranch dispersals, estates, and families who can no longer care for them; Amish driving standardbreds; ponies; Belgians; Bureau of Land Management mustangs; broodmares; and youngsters. Some have been mistreated, others neglected, some are tossed away because they can't do a particular job (though they are suited to many others). A surprising number of them are sound, loving, and rideable.
Save Lives by Bring Rescues into the Mainstream
Rescue horses get a bad rap. Most horse rescues are unaffiliated with lesson and show barns, and rescue horses are unsurprisingly stigmatized. There is little awareness of how many sound, useful, loving horses are routed to slaughterhouses. We need programs that integrate rescue horses into the mainstream, that recognize their unique value and potential as teachers, prospects, pleasure and competition horses. Such programming helps to staunch the flow of horses to slaughter.