Since its founding in west Morgan Hill about six years ago, Fairytale Farm has rescued more than 250 mini-horses, ponies and donkeys that were living in unhealthy, neglectful conditions—many of whom were on their way to certain death, according to the nonprofit’s founder, Alexandra Martinez.
Now, the farm is in need of a new location to board and care for its rescued animals, and is hoping for some help from the community. The rescue organization’s property owner on Casa Loma Road, where Fairytale Farm was founded in September 2017—and where Martinez and her husband were married—has given notice to vacate the property. Fairytale Farm and the 50 or so rescued animals currently residing there have until June 30 to find a new home or multiple boarding options that can accommodate everyone, Martinez said.
“The owner is selling about 200 acres, and is selling it for more than we can afford,” Martinez said.
As a registered nonprofit, Fairytale Farm gains most of its revenue and operations capacity from fundraising, donations and a dedicated group of volunteers. Martinez, who also works full-time as a paramedic, said Fairytale Farm benefits from a “huge amount of volunteers,” including about 15 regulars.
In anticipation of their necessary move, Martinez has been busy finding temporary foster homes throughout the region for some of the rescued horses. She has also been meeting with real estate professionals in search of an ideal new long-term home for Fairytale Farm, for lease or sale.
Anyone who has owned or cared for a single horse knows how quickly the expenses required to give such an animal a happy home can pile up. For Fairytale Farm, just the costs of transportation and veterinary care can be astronomical, especially with dozens of horses in need of boarding and attention.
Martinez explained that Fairytale Farm started out focusing largely on rescuing mini-horses and donkeys. Lately, however, the farm has taken in more pregnant mares, ponies and even some retired show horses from precarious situations in numerous states.
Many of the farm’s rescued horses came from Texas, where animals that may be many hands removed from their original owners are sold at auction. Often, the buyers at those auctions load the horses onto “kill pens” to be carried across the border, en route to slaughterhouses in Mexico.
“Horse slaughter is illegal in the U.S., but it’s not illegal to ship them over the border,” Martinez said. “There’s a lot of money to be made in purchasing older horses. They ship them over the border, and we’ll try to bring them in” instead.
On a recent Friday afternoon at Fairytale Farm’s Casa Loma location, volunteer Rose Silva led two mini-horses—Jasmine and Aladdin—from their stable to an outdoor pen where they have more room to run around and stretch their legs. They frolicked with two older, larger rescued horses—Dunne and Buddy—while Martinez’s young son and daughter greeted the animals.
Jasmine and Aladdin were rescued from Texas, where they had been living at a petting zoo that closed. The minis went to auction, where they caught the attention of Fairytale Farm, Silva explained.
Many of the rescues came from unhealthy environments where they were neglected. Horses sold at the auctions in Texas are sometimes loaded onto trucks with no food or water. Silva described how some of the animals require extensive veterinary care as soon as they are rescued, racking up hospital bills of thousands of dollars for a single horse.
“These animals just want to be loved,” Silva said. “A lot of them were pets.”
Martinez added that Fairytale Farm also accepts horses, ponies, donkeys and miniature horses from owners who can no longer care for the animals and have to give them up.
After taking in each animal and nursing them back to health, Fairytale Farm seeks to adopt the rescued horses back out to a new “forever situation” with responsible owners.
“We usually adopt about 20 to 40 (animals) per year,” Martinez said.
She added, “Sometimes, a sanctuary is the right home option for some that are seniors or extreme abuse cases that need specialized care. For those, we find each one just the right placement where they can live out their lives.”
Silva recently started an online fundraising campaign at gofundme.com, and has been busy getting the word out about Fairytale Farm’s need for assistance. The campaign currently has a goal of $25,000.
Volunteers like Silva and Lynn Kriegbaum were drawn to Fairytale Farm through their love of horses. Silva, who recently retired from a career in the justice system, said she has always wanted to take care of horses and began volunteering last summer.
Kriegbaum volunteers at Fairytale Farm at least four days a week, caring for the horses and writing grant applications.
“I totally support what (Martinez) is doing,” Kriegbaum said at the farm last week. “She has an innate sense of what the horses need.”
How to help
An online fundraising campaign is seeking donations to help Fairytale Farm Mini Horse and Pony Rescue find a new home for its nonprofit rescue operation. The campaign, titled “Help Save Fairytale Farm,” can be found on GoFundMe at bit.ly/3HxyDJg.