Redwings Horse Sanctuary began in May 1991 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in Carmel, California, with a mission to end the abuse, neglect, and slaughter of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and burros through rescue and foster care. In its first year, Redwings rescued 15 equines from abusive or life-threatening situations. Redwings staff then rehabilitated the equines and matched them with carefully-screened adoptive homes.
Redwings first rescue was a beautiful Thoroughbred gelding named Island Fighter. Redwings received a call from Fresno County to alert us about a horse in an auction pen with a fractured shoulder. Redwings originally planned to purchase the horse to humanely end his suffering, but the horse had spirit and a veterinarian was called in to assess the severity of the horse’s injury. Island Fighter was in luck, the vet determined that with a long rest and rehabilitation period the young horse could make a full recovery. The staff at Redwings renamed the horse “Sam” after Congressman Sam Farr who has been a huge supporter of Redwings.
Redwings also addressed educational, financial, and other factors behind equine neglect. The organization initiated several programs including an equine education program for new owners, and an equine medical assistance program for owners with low incomes.
In the fall of 1992, Redwings broadened its scope to include permanent sanctuary for those equines who were unable to be adopted, ensuring them a secure and life-long home at the sanctuary. From 1992 to 2000 Redwings leased a beautiful ranch overlooking the ocean off Highway 1, in Carmel.
In 2000 Redwings moved to a 167-acre ranch in southern Monterey County, California. The entire Redwings family of 90 equines, staff members, and some volunteers completed the transition to the new sanctuary in March 2002.
Today 86 horses call Redwings home. We have everything from the smallest miniature horse to the largest draft horse. Our herd of 9 burros from Death Valley are at the entrance of the sanctuary to greet all the staff, visitors, and volunteers each day. Our herd of Mustangs from the Pryor Mountains of Montana are very popular with guests, and our draft herd, rescued from the Premarin auctions in Canada, stand regally at the top of their hill and keep a watchful eye over the ranch.
Redwings has a foster to adopt program to ensure that all our horses go to approved and loving homes. Potential homes must fill out a foster application and have a home inspection before being approved to foster a Redwings horse. The mandatory one year foster period enables Redwings staff to keep a close eye on the foster horse and make sure they are happy, healthy, and a good fit for the foster family. After a year of successful fostering the horse is then available for adoption by the foster family. Those horses who are not adoptable due to age, illness or injury have a permanent home at the sanctuary.
In 2014 Redwings was accredited by CARMA (California Race Management Account) and is an approved after care partner for Thoroughbreds that raced in California. In 2015 Redwings was accredited by TAA (Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance), a national organization, as an approved aftercare facility for retired race horses. On September 30, 2016 Redwings was received full accreditation from GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries), an international organization that provides certification for animal sanctuaries through verification and accreditation.