Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
A paradise where horses go…
Photos: Harleen Bal
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.
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, was rescued 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.
What We Do
Hector Hill in the springtime
Best friends forever
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 not re-homed. Hector Hill has been nicknamed a "last chance ranch" for aging horses.
Onward & Outward
Always Moving, Changing
It's hard to believe that the year is moving along so quickly and that just a short time ago we seemingly had turned a corner on the pandemic. Today's news is telling a different story, however, making planning ahead especially tricky.
Still, our horses are well and happy, our wonderful volunteers are so dedicated and amazing, and this is the year we finally got around to planting a number of new trees on the property to eventually add extra shade as well as beauty to the large pasture. Having additional trees to look at is its own reward, of course, but we're hoping that the deer family that calls Hector Hill home will eventually be able to enjoy the enhanced habitat as well.
With the summer of '21 relentlessly churning forward, we're sorry to say that two of our student volunteers have chosen colleges and pre-vet study that soon will take them away from Hector Hill. They'll be missed. Their time with our horses has been invaluable, both as a hands-on learning experience with large animals through our "Hands On With Horses" program, and for the quality time "in the country" it's offered them. Our horses have loved all the extra care and attention they've received from them, too. We're urging ranch visits when they come back home for the holidays and they've pledged to visit. We plan to hold them to it.
Thankfully, the rest of our fine volunteer team will still be with us and we're so
It all began with Bucky...
grateful for their commitment. These horse-loving helpers have brought a special level of enthusiasm and caring to Hector Hill that was somewhat unexpected when we started the program, and it's a pleasure having them participate in what we do.
Thank you all so much - you're the best!
Our Equine Princess
In the year plus since Jilly came to Hector Hill, she's asserted herself as one of the bossier horses on the place. Very different from the pacing, nervous and timid girl who came from another rescue, where she'd been taken to recover from a number of chronic and serious health issues. What a difference a year makes. Since joining our equine group, our very lovely and petite Jilly has taken her place near the top of the pasture pecking order. At the same time she's become a volunteer favorite because of her gentle and affectionate disposition with people. A true equine princess is our Jilly, and we're glad she came to stay.
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
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.
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 an initiative of the Animal Welfare Institute.
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 - Former Californian and a lover of all creatures large and small, Barb spent four decades in Bay Area and Sacramento advertising, television and public relations ﬁrms before retiring south of the border with husband, Marcos. Part of their “family” includes three stray cats.
Kathy Wilkinson, Vice Chair - Kathy's day job is with a major area school district; outside the job she's a longtime volunteer at a local animal shelter, with a particular talent for managing birds and farm animals. She also has a knack for things green and growing (horticulture degree) and is mom to an adopted pitbull, Harriet.
Bill Gage, Treasurer - During his 30 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. Now retired, he helps manage Hector Hill's day-to-day ranch operations and horse care.
Our photogenic Heidi
Carol Gage, Secretary - Carol’s career in communications and media led to her own communications/graphic design company, which she ran for more than two decades while simultaneously pursuing her true passions: animal advocacy and rescuing horses. Today, when not managing horse care and ranch chores at Hector Hill, she’s likely spending time with husband, Bill, their senior terrier, Dharma, and recently adopted Bloodhound, Bo.