Couple Focus on Horse Retirement Facility
Two million dollars will buy the 488 acres in Hoke County that their Southern Pines Sport Horse Foundation has acquired an option on.
Then another $8-to-$10 million to get the retirement facility and sport horse museum up and running.
"It has to be ambitious," McClaren said. "There are a lot of horses out there. It's so doable. If everyone would give up one show, and give us the money, we'd be set."
McClaren's platform is based on the controversial Horse Slaughter Protection Act (H.R. 503, S. 1915), a bill currently in Congress designed to ban horse slaughter for human consumption, including the sale and transportation of horses for this purpose.
And she's done her homework. McClaren can recite the statistics, and her argument is based on developing a plan for the 60,000 horses per year in this country currently being processed for dinner tables in Europe and Asia. There are three slaughter facilities here, two in Texas and one in Ohio, all foreign-owned.
It's a complex issue.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture loves the $41 million a year horsemeat export industry.
Horse lovers are repulsed by the horrors of the slaughterhouse, especially the transportation and treatment of inbound livestock.
Surprisingly, the American Association of Equine Practitioners is against the bill. But not because they are pro-slaughter, but because it does not address funding for or methods of caring for the unwanted horses. Bingo. Enter McClaren and Winkelman.
Both are lifelong horse people, now retired, with the time, connections, and resources to devote to this project. The first six months were spent acquiring a 501(C)3 non-profit tax status. After that the fundraising efforts shifted into high gear, from Palm Beach to Palm Springs.
Critics say their dream is unrealistic: Equine-related charities and nonprofits are all struggling, and their efforts dilute contributions. But McClaren and Winkelman are optimistic that they can meet their goal -- pasture gates opening to accept retired and unwanted horses by 2008.
"There are really only two valid options for a horse at the end of his career," McClaren said. "Humane euthanasia, or a decent retirement. We want to set the standard for retirement. What this foundation is trying to do is get on top of this problem before we have a crisis on our hands."
The couple has been traveling the show circuits over the last year raising money and awareness for the SPSHF. They have visited private horse retirement facilities, including a 500-acre, 102-horse site in Aiken, S.C.
"We are thankful for the retirement homes that currently exist, but so many of them are just scraping by."
Winkelman, a third-generation horseman and former high goal polo player, is retired from his highway construction company.
"I'm too old to play polo, I don't like golf and I'm no good at fishing," Winkelman said. "This keeps us connected with the horse world, and I love what I'm doing. Nobody loves a challenge more than I do."
McClaren calls herself "an ordinary horse person, who knew I had a responsibility from the first horse I owned."
Another frequently asked question is -- Why here? Acreage is expensive, pasture is seasonal and hay is pricey.
"It might cost a little more per month," McClaren admits. "But Southern Pines is well known, which helps in our fundraising efforts . Any horse community would be proud to have this."
Board member Peter Doubleday of Southern Pines said, "I think it is a great idea, a great place to have something like this. But, and this is a big but, the project needs someone to step up and buy the land and build."
McClaren and Winkelman are determined to see this elaborate plan to fruition.
"I'm told by a local professional fundraiser of high regard that our first year was very successful," McClaren said. "That meant a lot to me because I have no real barometers to measure my success against. She also told me, as have others, that with the prestigious people behind us the 'money will come.'
"My effort comes easy, I so strongly believe that our solutions are paramount to the cure. I am in dialog weekly with others in this movement, always looking for ways to stem the growing neglected horse problem, such ignominy against such a noble creature."
For more information, go to the Web site www.spshf.com.
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