The Horses Own A Forever Home: Redwings Horse Sanctuary Moves

“We want to be part of a community,” says Sara Ruggerone, Equine Care Manager, as Redwings Horse Sanctuary moves the horses into a new forever home of their very own. The journey to a permanent residence began with a sizeable gift left in a will specifically tapped for a forever home for the horses.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary Moves to SLO County

Redwings Horse Sanctuary opened its heart and home in the quiet horse community of Carmel, California in 1991. Nine years later they expanded to a leased property in Lockwood, CA where they still operate today, but not for much longer. Redwings Horse Sanctuary is moving to San Luis Obispo County.


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Being a part of a horse community in SLO County provides Redwings with easier access to veterinary care, farrier services, feed and tack stores, community specialists, treasured volunteers and more. “Our goal was always to land in San Luis Obispo County,” says Sara. “We looked at several properties throughout the county before acquiring the 141 acre property at the Union Road site in Paso Robles.”

Artist’s Rendition of New Sanctuary Home

Redwings Horse Sanctuary Finds a Perfect New Home

Sara mentioned a few things the search process took into consideration to find the perfect permanent home for the horses. “We fell in love with the gently rolling hills, and the sizable open flat space for building our new facility. This site has plenty of room for turn-out space and an existing residence so staff can be on site 24/7.” Thus, the site on Union Road in Paso Robles was purchased and the permit process began.

Groundbreaking

“We experienced unanticipated delays through the permit process and environmental impact studies,” explained Sara. “The process was time consuming.” However, once they had all the paperwork and approvals in-hand they hit the ground running in building the basic facility set-up.

Building the New Redwings Horse Sanctuary Home

Smaller Mare Motel

The building design for the Sanctuary takes into consideration the resident horses’ needs. Because most of the resident horses simply hang out for most of the day, turn out space is very important. So, two “mare motels” housing 8-16 horses, with open sides and a shade structure covering are up and ready. Also, there will be multiple additional shade structures and turnouts. The resident horses get rotational turnout time for 3-4 hours a day. The horses’ daily activity is all managed by Sara.

Large Shade Cover

The Horses’ New Home is Taking Shape

The Office and Reception Area

Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s new home is taking shape. Additional buildings are in various stages of completion. The office is under construction. Relocating the “medical barn” to Union Road was successful. It is a two-stall, fully enclosed barn to house horses who are healing. The “hay barn” is up with a cement pad underneath. More buildings and structures include an equipment shop building, an arena plus a roundpen, tie rails and a wash rack. Since Paso Robles experiences high temperatures in the summer months, all the pastures have shade structures. Most of the pasture fencing is complete along with the gates. The hope is to provide irrigation to the turn out pastures but not the large community pastures.   

The Hay Barn

Although completing all the building projects is slated for the end of 2020, horses will begin moving in December. Sara expects to be operating out of both the current Lockwood facility and the new home for about a month during the transition. Redwings is looking to be fully operational at their new permanent home by the end of January 2021. A grand opening party is slated for the Spring of 2021.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary Capacity Increase Through Foster-to-Adopt Program

The minor-use permit allows up to 90 horses on the sanctuary. Although, the sweet-spot number is 85, so there won’t be a huge change in the number of horses the Sanctuary can house. However, Redwings can expand the number of horses they are helping through the expansion of their signature, Foster-to-Adopt program. Currently Redwings takes in 15-18 new horses a year. That number can increase with more horses placed in foster care homes.

Where Do the Horses Come From?

The majority of Redwings residents come from somewhere in California. Most of these horses have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Redwings is also accredited by several Thoroughbred aftercare programs such as CARMA and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Several other breed-specific rescue groups are in contact with Redwings. The Sanctuary is a stepping stone to a new forever home for the horses through these programs.

New Home and New Dreams

With a new home owned by the horses, new dreams take shape for the Redwings program. Two longer-term dreams are to integrate an Equestrian Therapy program along with an Equine Facilitated Mental Health program. These two dreams will provide useful jobs to many of the horse residents. In addition the horses will be making a difference in human lives in our community.

New Dreams Realized and New Financial Goals

Greg Wyatt, President, Board of Directors; Sara Ruggerone, Redwing’s Equine Care Manager

“Education will be a huge part of interacting with our local community,” explains Sara. Redwings will be a place to bring kids for field trips. Here students will learn about proper horse care, grow to respect the senior horse and understand what Redwings is about. Redwings staff will be available to go off-site and address groups while making connections with local horse clubs. 

Linelle Soxman, Board Member & Development Officer at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, writes, “Our future plans include educational opportunities and outreach to local schools to educate children about caring for horses and why Sanctuaries, like Redwings, are needed. Eventually a horse therapy program will be developed.  Redwing’s 30TH ANNIVERSARY takes place in May, 2021. So, special events will be planned in May to commemorate 30 years of Redwings fulfilling their mission to rescue and offer sanctuary to abused, neglected and abandoned equines.”

“Paso Here We Come” Capital Campaign

The first step in seeing these dreams come to reality begins with a capital campaign, “Paso, Here We Come!” which kicks off on September 30, 2020 and runs through December 31, 2021. Linelle provides a few details, “There will be lots of sponsor and donor levels.  Donors can purchase an engraved commemorative brick that will be part of our outdoor space, or a beautiful metal horse galloping across our donor wall, even have a pasture or arena named after them!”

The public can send a general donation that specifies “capital campaign “ to: P.O. Box 186, Paso Robles, CA 93447, or make a donation through the website.  Donors can choose from seven specific donor sponsorship levels: from Bronze to Diamond. These levels provide sponsors with choices of how their contribution can be acknowledged. The options get bigger as a donor goes up a level.

More examples of how donors will be honored are: starting with options such as a commemorative brick ($200), an engraved horse on the donor wall ($500), plus their name listed in the Grand Opening Event Program, sponsor the large arena, even name a major building. At the higher levels, donors will get an invitation to the Grand Opening, a special large name/business logo plaque, plus a VIP Tour of the Sanctuary, accompanied by a deluxe luncheon.

Will the Current Staff Members be Moving with Redwings?

Sara tells us that most of the current staff actually lives in northern SLO County. So the move cuts their drive down significantly. A few others reside in Lockwood or Monterey County and these people will most likely be moving with Redwings. Therefore, either no change or little change to the seven full-time and two part-time staff serving the horses at Redwings Horse Sanctuary is expected.

The biggest change will be all the new connections and friends made as they integrate with the horse and human community in SLO County.


Let’s all welcome our new neighbors as Redwings Horse Sanctuary moves to their permanent home among the SLO horse community.


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Sharon Jantzen

Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family. Presently she is enjoying riding a Rocky Mounted Gaited horse and exploring Mounted Archery. Her new baby is Whisper, a Connemara filly.

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