Welcome to the Toni’s Ponies blog! It’s been a minute since we’ve updated here and a lot has been going on since then and especially in the last 5 months. For those of you who know us and have been keeping up with us on social media, please pardon the quick recap… also know that we are so grateful for your support. We literally could not do what we do without you!
For those of you who might be new to Toni’s Ponies, we wanted to take a minute and share who we are, what we are all about and what’s been going on the last few months. Don’t worry we’ll try to keep it quick!
Toni’s Ponies is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit and 509(a)(3) Public Charity organization operating in Kingston Washington. We are a horse rescue that puts a focus on rehabilitation, rehoming, and creating sanctuary. We rescue horses from feed lots, destined for slaughter, we take in horses that are being surrendered from their families due to many reasons, and we have taken some wild ones as well. While our goal is to work with these horses (and some other miscellaneous equine friends, i.e. donkeys and mules) toward rehabilitation, it’s not always a fast or easy road. Many of these horses that come to us have injuries, are older, and also have had some trauma. For some they are worked with and are able to find a new forever home, others become permanent residents of our herd where they live out the rest of their lives in community with other horses and humans. The herd here at Toni’s Ponies has almost 20 acres that it gets to roam, graze, and play on. It’s here that we invite our community to visit and interact, learn, and love on these horses. When we have a horse that is ready for adoption, we will put the word out and do our best to find them a great home.
Toni’s Ponies is founded and run by Toni Houck, who has been involved with horses her whole life. You don’t have to know Toni for long to see the passion she has for these horses and for the community of Kingston just pour right out of her. She has been living on the property that the rescue resides on for the last 17 years, raising her family, rescuing horses, all while working outside the home as well. In mid-February of this year Toni was told that the property that she had been renting would soon go up for sale. This set off a whirlwind of events! The timeline was 90 days before the rescue would need to raise funds to buy the property or move 17+ animals. Our village banded together, we started a gofundme, we put together a huge sale, people donated funds and things for our sale, we were featured on Q13 news (twice) and in the Seattle Times as well as the Kitsap Sun and several online publications as well. The kingston Mercantile donated their building and invetory for our sale and Hood Canal Brewery opened up their doors to us and hosted a fundraising event that was so awesome! We’ve always known that we were part of an amazing community but between February and May we were just blown away with the support we received. Even though we raised almost $70,000 we were nowhere near being able to purchase the property at $650,000. It was then that Sid and Karen Wang of Happy Hooves Sanctuary on Bainbridge Island stepped in. They were able to purchase the property and give us a more reasonable amount of time to raise the funds to purchase the property from them. We could breathe again.
People always talk about a silver lining or looking for the good in the bad and we’re here to tell you that this was one of the most stressful things that we’ve ever gone through. That said, it really changed the future of Toni’s Ponies in a positive way. Toni has been rescuing horses for a long time. The rescue has been operating as a nonprofit for only 3 years. In the scheme of things, we are pretty small and had just started having conversations with our board on what growth would look like for us. We are still taking the time needed to really plan things out but this situation definitely made us jump in and get going a lot faster. Because of it we have had more exposure and Toni’s Ponies has had a huge increase in publicity and that in turn, has brought so many more volunteers to our door!
We had a New Volunteer Orientation in late May and met so many new people! Wednesdays around the farm are now filled with volunteers. More people spending time with horses, grooming, cleaning pens, loving on them, even riding. This is what it looks like these days and we love it!
In mid-April two new horses were rescued, Rusty and Dusty. At the end of April Butters and Elvis went to their new home and are loving it! In May, Finn came back to the rescue after a placement did not work out. Our Mule, Megs was adopted by our neighbor Alex and she continues to live here on the rescue and is happy as part of the herd!
Last week (early June) we had a huge scare when Rusty colicked. Things did not look good for this gorgeous boy. He was in a lot of pain. We had the vet out and they did a belly tap and tubed him. The prognosis was not looking favorable. We watched him all day just waiting for poop. He had come out of the sedation really well and was eating grass as well as drinking very small amounts of water. He looked good, but we were told that could absolutely happen and then he would most likely get worse. We really needed to see that his body could process the food he was eating. Of course, Dusty did not like being separated from his friend so he came out to the lawn to keep him company. As morning, turned to afternoon we were all getting a bit antsy. Toni finally said,” I’ve heard that if you want your horse to poop you take them for a trailer ride.” We already had the trailer attached and ready to go just in case things took a turn for the worse. We loaded him up and Dusty came running in, not to be left behind! Sure enough as soon as Andy started pulling forward Rusty started pooping! They had traveled all of 200 ft. The length of the driveway. Wow! You’ve never seen three people so excited to see horse poop. It’s been a week now and Rusty is doing great. He’s back to his normal food and he’s pretty frisky as well.
We have several events on the horizon such as our annual yard sale July 14-17 and a benefit concert featuring Silver City 6 August 12. You will also see us out about in the community at the Hansville craft show June 25 and in the 4th of July parade here in Kingston. Another exciting thing is that we are opening up the rescue for a few weeks this summer for our new Farm Friends experience. This is a week-long hands-on summer experience for youth! More on that later!
We are so thankful to have the extra time to buy this property and are still very much in fundraising mode. Because of that we have done some work on our website and have partnered with Zeffy. Zeffy is the first and only 100% free fundraising platform for nonprofits. That means that every penny that is donated through Zeffy comes directly to Toni’s Ponies. We don’t pay any processing fees. This is huge! Also, it makes it super easy to support your favorite horse rescue through one-time or monthly donations. Every little bit helps and even $10 a month can go a long way when we all band together!
We want to end off this post by saying thank you again. We are so grateful for you. You are making a difference in the life of these horses.