Sunshine, smiles break out for annual SHARE rescue open house

Chloe Spitz gets a nuzzle from Cinco at the annual SHARE open house in rural Dewey. See more photos in the Dec. 4 edition of the Rantoul Press.

An unknown author once said, “Saving one horse may not change the world, but it will surely change the world for that one horse!”

This could surely sum up the mission of the Society for Hooved Animal Rescue and Emergencies. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has humane investigators who work along with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to investigate calls from people who report possible abuse, neglect or abandonment of hooved animals, i.e., horses, donkeys and mules. The organization tries to educate owners on how to maintain the health and integrity of these animals as well.

Each year in October, SHARE has its open house so that the public can visit these rescued horses and raise funds for its operation. This year’s event, held Oct. 20, was the most successful yet. Some $1,900 was raised by people buying items off the website’s “Wish List” to donate.

This year’s open house had a host of activities. Tickets were available on site for most activities; there was no charge to visit the horses.

Visitors were able to read the stories of each rescued horse on the posters hanging on the stalls. There were also volunteers available to answer questions.

Young people enjoyed draft horse rides, pumpkin painting, face painting and a chance to brush a miniature horse. Many enjoyed listening to the mountain music and Carter family favorites played by the Young and the Fretless. There were homemade bake sale items such as sweet-potato pies, brats, hot dogs and hot apple cider for purchase.

There were new demonstrations and activities. SHARE volunteer trainer Steve showed how to “start a horse under saddle” using a quarter horse named Cinco. Mark Merriman, a local farrier, was on hand to demonstrate the trimming of a horse’s hooves.

Psychic readings were available, and there was the opportunity to win one of four raffle items. One raffle item was interestingly named the “Unicorn Poop” raffle.

The big event was the horse costume contest and parade. Volunteers pick a horse, sometimes a donkey, to dress up in a costume. The person leading the horse in the parade is often dressed up as well. Open house attendees are asked to vote for who they like the most with “dollars” they can stuff into a jar designated for each contestant.

This year’s winner was Sherry Reeves, dressed as cheese, and her miniature horse, Mitzi, dressed as a Ritz cracker. Other contestants were Tina Hansen as Maid Marian and her two Royal Draft horses, Jack and George; Debi Stoppkotte with Buddy dressed with spiders in his mane and a rat skeleton in his tail; Patty Cetin, who dressed her horse, Loki Bill, as Aladdin; Kim Thiede, who was dressed as Jessie from “Toy Story” and her miniature horse, Nick, as Buzz Lightyear; and Emily West, who dressed her horse, Hope, as a unicorn.