Care, Kindness, Peace, Dignity
Since 2001, the ranch has provided a last refuge for numerous senior horses who've been used up and left behind. Some past and present Hector Hill residents include:
Zelda, a coal-black Thoroughbred mare with beautiful eyes and very long legs, rescued several years ago from a vacant lot along with two equine companions... All had physical injuries and only the weeds to eat. Nobody knows how long they'd been there.
Kody, a beautiful senior Appy gelding who was dropped off at a rescue with owner instructions to "just euthanize him"...Today, handsome, feisty Kody is very much alive and kicking and the "boss horse" at Hector Hill.
Heidi, a lovely, sweet Quarter Horse mare who was in skin-and-bones condition when she was confiscated by animal control officers...She had salmonella, advanced arthritis in one leg, and physical signs of having been bred multiple times. Today, Heidi is healthy and has her own pasture, a quality diet, equine friends, and all the human-provided "t-l-c" she needs.
Jax was picked up by rescuers in the middle of a rice field, in the middle of the night, after running near a freeway for nearly an hour. He then spent two weeks in a county animal shelter, but was never claimed. Severe arthritis made him unadoptable.
All horses, especially discarded, abused and neglected senior horses, deserve care, kindness, peace and dignity. At Hector Hill, horses long given up by those once charged with caring for them can graze, amble, make friends and just be themselves till the end of their days.
A Haven for Senior Horses
Hector Hill Animal Sanctuary (HHAS) offers a safe haven for senior horses who've been victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Hector Hill partners with independent rescuers, animal protection/rescue organizations, and municipal shelters to care for aging horses and other animals in need.
What We Do
Hector Hill in the springtime
Sweet Jax is a real sweetheart
"Last Chance Ranch"
For nearly two decades, the Hector Hill property near Auburn, California, has been a place where senior horses have been able to quietly live out their days with the individualized care they require. Every equine resident at the sanctuary receives routine health evaluations, foot care, dental checks, quality feed, and medications as needed. All have spacious, shaded areas to move around in, and frequently share their pastures with deer, wild turkeys, quail, rabbits and guinea fowl.
Once at Hector Hill, the horses are "home." They become permanent sanctuary residents and are never re-homed. Hector Hill has been nicknamed a "last chance ranch" for aging horses.
Best friends forever
Onward & Outward
Hector Hill Reaches Out
It's an understatement to say that 2020 imposed some big challenges on all of us, but we're happy to report that throughout the year we managed to find some bright spots as well. Among them, an organization called Fleet of Angels and its creative and successful "hay bank" program. As horse owners everywhere grapple with job losses, evictions and other hardships because of the pandemic, FoA remains a lifeline for them. Donations (either monetary or in-kind) to their "hay bank" enables these Angels to provide hay and feed when and where needed, with the primary goal of keeping horses and their people together. Our team agreed that this is a worthwhile and tangible way to make a real difference in a time of ongoing financial struggle for so many, and we were pleased to lend them our support...
A small nonprofit called Sammie's Friends is another ray of sunshine for needy animals that we encountered in 2020. Tucked away in an unassuming little building in the Sierra Foothills, Sammie's Friends manages to do a lot for the animals in their care, which include equines, farm animals, and the usual assortment of dogs and cats. They have an active, involved network of volunteers and foster homes, and they go above and beyond for the animals in their charge. Sammie's Friends makes the most of the support they receive and we were happy to offer them ours...
Our "Hands on With the Horses" volunteer program over the past year has been a serious success, and we're grateful to all the students and volunteers who've joined
It all began with Bucky...
up to spend time with us and the horses (who, of course, are loving all the attention). Doing chores is way more pleasant with extra hands on deck, and our sweet seniors in turn have been good teachers for the volunteers in the process. Thank you, Kathy, Janet, Harleen, Devin, Chiara, Wyatt, Jamie and all who've signed on so far. Looking forward to another (masked and socially distanced) year ahead...
Onward and outward in 2021.
Our New Jilly is a Gem
We're very happy to welcome the lovely Jilly to our sanctuary. As sweet as she is beautiful, Jilly recently came to Hector Hill from another rescue, which had initially taken her in to help her recover from a number of chronic health issues. After months of dedicated care and attention, her health improved enough to move her to a forever home - which lucky for us is now at Hector Hill. Gentle and mellow, she's a princess on four hooves and we're so glad she came to stay. Welcome home, Jilly!
As Hector Hill is a small sanctuary, our team is always on the lookout for donation and sponsorship opportunities for needy horses we can’t care for ourselves. This is how Samson, a gorgeous 1,800-pound Belgian draft horse, caught our eye. Taken in by The Nature Network, Inc., an animal rescue nonprofit in southern California, Samson’s back story was compelling: The giant, photogenic golden boy with a flax-colored mane had been living for months in an L.A.-area animal shelter, where he'd been taken by animal control after being removed from a life of starvation and neglect. The Network, which ultimately stepped up and took him on, gave him both a second chance and the very best of care – care that over time tallied into the thousands of dollars. But Samson's many struggles related to years of physical neglect in his former life had already taken their toll, leaving him unable to overcome a number of medical issues and chronically fragile health. Sadly, beautiful Samson passed away recently at just 22. Though gone too soon, throughout his life and against the odds Samson was a survivor, a valiant spirit and a true credit to his incredible equine breed. To honor Samson - and horses everywhere on The National Day of the Horse and all year round - we wanted to support the dedicated care team who worked tirelessly on his behalf...and also share Samson's story.
Golden Boy Samson
Forever special Zelda
Farewell to a True Beauty
Her name was Zelda. My pet name for her was “Zeddy” and she responded equally well to both. But to my mind she just as easily could have been called “Queen Z” because she was still beautiful, feisty and regal despite her very advanced age. We couldn’t know for sure how old she really was – she came to us more than six years ago as a shelter rescue - but the best veterinary estimates put her in the mid- to late 30s on the day she passed. The Lovely Miss Zelda wasn’t an equine beauty in the traditional sense – not stunning like the horses prancing in glorious color on the calendar hanging in my kitchen – but a show-stopper nonetheless. It was her long, long racehorse legs that people noticed first, then her sleek black narrow body and neck, and ultimately her eyes – large, dark and still very bright. A closer look would reveal some haunting things about her as well: An unreadable tattoo inside her upper lip that was too faded to unlock the details of her true age, name and background; several broken teeth, the front ones worn down to the gum line, allowing the tip of her tongue to sometimes slip out of her mouth; and troubling leg scars, including the telltale remnants of pin firing. I first saw Zelda at an area shelter, where she was taken after being picked up with two companions from a vacant lot. Ultimately, and lucky for us, the forces of the universe did their thing and she found her way to our ranch and into our lives and hearts. She was very special to us from the day she arrived and enjoyed all the t-l-c we could give her. And even toward the end the girl was ever the runner. On a cool morning, when she was feeling especially good, she’d bolt full
tilt across the pasture, her body moving in a smooth trajectory atop those legs as they thumped the ground in a cloud of dust. She’d stop on a dime at the fence, then snort her approval at what she’d just done. Run, after all, was what she was born to do. Zelda’s passing remains very sad for us and for her pasture pals, who as I write this still call for her. We miss her a lot. But she’s left us with the fondest memories imaginable - of her sweetness, joie de vivre, occasional cantankerousness (with the farrier), soft feeding time whinnies, and particular ageless equine beauty. She was and always will be our Lovely Miss Zelda -- and will forever be my one and only “Zeddy.” -- cg
Hands On With Horses
Hector Hill recently initiated a student volunteer program to offer both pre-vet students and those working or planning to work in the animal care field opportunities to gain “hands-on” large animal experience. Volunteers learn the basics of equine behavior, care, feeding and ranch maintenance as they groom, exercise (no riding) and interact one-on-one with our senior horses. Volunteer opportunities are made available by appointment only; to participate contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hector Hill is proud to be a member of the Homes for Horses Coalition, a national coalition dedicated to increasing collaboration, professionalism and growth in the equine protection community. HHC is a joint initiative of the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.
Additional Support for Animals
Extending A Hand
Hector Hill's primary mission is to provide forever homes to senior equines. As we can, we also support others dedicated to helping animals, by way of sponsorships, donations, and with temporary shelter and care for animals in need.
Who We Are
HHAS is guided by an all-volunteer board of directors with combined experience in law/consumer issues, communications/media, grant management, municipal animal shelter operations and business:
Barb Schor, Board Chair - After 40 years in the fast-paced world of communications and marketing, Barb recently jumped off the merry-go-round and headed south of the border. Now retired, she and her husband, Marcos, live in Baja California, where they're a bit like fish out of water, but settling in nonetheless. A self-described “cat person,” and a lover of all our four-legged friends, Barb is excited to be a HHAS charter board member.
Kathy Wilkinson, Vice-Chair - Kathy works for a large local school district, and is a gold-star volunteer and "chicken whisperer" at a county animal shelter --where she spends every waking moment when not on the job. She's a card-carrying tree-hugger (horticulture degree) and the proud mom of two sweet pitbull mixes, Billy and Otis.
Our photogenic Heidi
Bill Gage, Treasurer - During his 30-plus years in the California legislature, Bill helped advance a number of successful pro-animal bills through the legislative process and to the governor’s desk for signature. The issues he worked on included: pet licensing, puppy mills, shelter adoptions, and spay/neuter, among many others. Now retired, Bill's lending his animal advocacy experience to additional animal welfare projects, with a primary focus on California’s horse racing industry.
Carol Gage, Secretary - A longtime animal advocate, adopter and independent horse rescuer, Carol owned a communications/design firm for many years. She’s a co-founder and former board member of TEAM – Teaching Everyone Animals Matter – and for several years co-organized community spay/neuter and health clinics for the pets of low-income residents. She also coordinated media campaigns on the importance of spay/neuter and pet identification. Today, when not hauling feed bags, scrubbing buckets and cleaning pastures at Hector Hill, she’s likely spending time with her rescue pups, Dino and Dharma.