From the Founder
I have been around horses showing, riding, etc., since the early 1960's. In 1988, my husband, Tom, and I rescued our first horse together - an pretty mare that had been neglected. After being rehabilitated and brought back to full health, we found a quality home for her, and so our adventure began. But, it wasn't until we moved to Sandy, Oregon that we really began taking in horses in need, rehabilitating them and finding them homes. That was in 2000. We started slow but found by 2006 our efforts had exceeded our expectations, and our finances, so we filed for our 501c3 Non Profit status, which was granted in February 2007. My love of mustangs started in 2000 when my husband, Tom, and I attended our first BLM adoption - I was hooked. Since then we began adopting and gentling our own mustangs. As a professional horse trainer I was not prepared for the knowledge these guys would give me and a world of unconditional love that I was headed for. We operated a successful rescue in Sandy, Oregon, working closely with law enforcement, BLM, and other organizations to provide a safe environment for horses that have endured starvation, neglect and physical abuse. Each animal that comes to us receives medical attention and daily positive human contact. We strive to rehabilitate each horse in the hope that we can locate responsible, caring and loving homes. Our goal is to give each horse the opportunity at a second chance at life, never having to endure starvation, neglect or abuse again. We do this because of our love of these magnificent animals. Many of the horses that come to our rescue are the product of poor training and ignorance rather than cruelty. Many of them come around quickly through the gentle touch and love of our volunteers. We work at reprogramming the negative with positive. During rehabilitation we work to be sure that the horse handles safely. Before they are placed for adoption all horses must be able to tie safely, lead well, stand for farrier work and grooming, and trailer. Ongoing gentling and training continues until the horses are adopted out. (Potential adopters must go through an intense background and facility check before a horse is turned over to them) Our rescue slowly grew and we were managing 17 horses on 3 acres. By the middle of 2007 we realized that we had to either quit or expand. In October, 2007, we purchased our current property on Clarks Branch Rd in Roseburg, a 156 acre section that has allowed us to expand and continue our rescue efforts. We immediately went from 17 to 36 horses in less than 6 weeks. We have successfully adopted out several horses since that time, placed a blind appaloosa at a forever home in Montana, and have taken back in horses bringing the numbers back 36 as we rolled into 2008. In 2007, I assisted with either the placement of or taking in over 250 horses nationally. Wild horses galloping across the vast plains of the West is an image that has long been associated with the spirit and freedom of America. However, as a nation, we have herded them, broken them, abused them and slaughtered them. America’s Wild Horses are facing their last stand. Whispering Winds is the largest wild horse rescue in the Pacific Northwest, with 28 currently roaming free on our ranch (which could increase at any time if we need to provide space for any that need to be placed in this environment). We have pastures and shelters set aside for horses with special needs, a training/holding area with shelters, pens and turn out, a quarantine area with pasture, shelters and pens, and have allocated the rest of the property (close to 130 acres) as a sanctuary where horses that we feel are not adoptable are allowed to roam free and undisturbed. Our lives are dedicated to saving horses and finding homes for those that can be adopted out. Although some of the horses that have come to us have been placed with us through BLM, many have been groups that have been rescued from feedlots just prior to shipping to slaughter. We work with other rescue groups nationally to place, or house slaughter bound horses such as our babies and pregnant mares from the Piute Indian Reservation that currently reside at our rescue. We also have several mustangs I have been able to pull off the feedlots myself, and last year hauled 2 loads of mustangs to Lifesavers sanctuary in Southern California so that they could live their lives out there. That was the beginning of our passion to create a sanctuary closer to the Northwest for those horses needing protection. We are finding, however, that the land we have purchased may not be large enough for the dreams we have and we will soon outgrow it. Our lives are dedicated to saving these horses. So, what do I do? I live and breathe caring for unwanted, abused, neglected, and abandoned horses 24/7. Regardless of whether I'm sick, injured, tired, the weather is bad, or I'm having a bad day they depend on me to take care of them. There is no other reward to me than watching a herd of horses, domestic and wild together, on a crisp early morning begin their "liberty" run - 20+ horses running through the fields in a band, ground shaking, horses bucking and playing as they maintain their group, circling around and passing by me as if welcoming me back as an old friend. Or, standing in the middle of young foals that have gathered around me to be scratched and loved on. Or, that first touch with a wild one that has never learned to trust a human but now approaches without fear. Or, seeing a horse that was on death's door run across the open field nickering and hurrying to catch up with its pasture mates. What do I do? I thank God each day for a life that He has given me.
Susan Pohlman, Founder/Director
Susan Pohlman, Founder/Director