HAMPTON, NJ – Horses are graceful and majestic creatures and often the public only sees the sugarcoated side of the lives that equines lead. Not every horse is a show animal, or is able to graze peacefully in a field.
Within the many cases of animal abuse reported to the public, are some that do not always come to light, until it is too late. This can especially be the case for horses, who tend to live a light less in the spotlight than many domestic animals, with being kept in more secluded places.
The tragedy with the abuse of horses is, because of their immense size, they can often become victims to abusers, who get a thrill with overtaking such a large animal. In other cases, they are simply not cared for, when in the hands of some who have the mentality that they can fend for themselves without food, water or shelter. And then, there are those who have good intentions and simply do not realize the responsibilities of caring for a horse, including the financial commitments (food, boarding, and medical care). Additionally, there is the controversy with horses being taken off of the grid further, illegally, and carted to Mexico, Canada, and even Europe for consumption (there had been a ban on horse meat inspection, which Congress let lapse in 2011, according to The LA Times. Another article said that a horse slaughterhouse has since reopened in New Mexico, after being banned in the Bush administration, with the Obama Administration not re-instituting the ban, and others are expected to reopen in Missouri and Iowa. Last year, there was also the issue that arose at IKEA, when one of their Polish meat suppliers, mixed horsemeat into one of the batches, which is a whole other story).
Diane Romano-Potocki, on the other hand, who has spent a lifetime caring for and about horses, is one set of human eyes looking out to ensure the best life possible for equines. On her more than 220 acres at the Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary, she has opened her property and heart to 19 horses that she has rescued, who live among the horses she boards, and her own horses. Her rescue is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, started in 2010, and absorbs the bulk of her energies.
“I’ve gotten more into the rescue horses, than the boarding,” said Romano-Potocki, who will head to the aid of horses in distress throughout New Jersey and beyond.
Some she has found in deplorable conditions –- freezing in meadows in the bitter cold, or with their delicate legs caked in manure as they are cooped up in barns. Others Romano-Potocki rescues are visibly emaciated, from lack of proper nutrition and minimal hydration.
To have these horses in her care, it takes about $600 a week alone to feed the rescues.
Romano-Potocki has been actively seeking donations (financial, as well as requests for feed purchases) to continue to care for the horses, and does not want to be classified as a “rescue in need of rescue.” Currently, she and her husband have been pulling out funds from their own coffers to defray the costs.
She is hosting an open house for the Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary on Sat., Nov. 23, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., which will introduce the public that visits more to the horses, and offer a tour of the scenic grounds. Romano-Potocki hopes to continue to expand the sanctuary, and offer programs for the schools, as well as equine assisted activities for all.
“I want to make an impact in New Jersey,” said Romano-Potocki, in terms of continuing to make the horse rescue and sanctuary, a place that is beneficial for the community.
The Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary is classified as a rescue specializing in equines, however, some other creatures have made their way to the rescue, most likely abandoned by their former owners. Romano-Potocki’s daughter found a lost guinea pig running on nearby Parsons Road, that someone left behind, as well as a rabbit. Romano-Potocki said that often there have been cats dropped onto her property, and more recently, someone placed a dog on the inside of their gate, tied to it with a shoelace. A friend also brought a black cat to her one Halloween, that is now one of Romano-Potocki’s own, when the friend learned through the grapevine, that some neighborhood teens (one who owned the cat), were planning on sacrificing it that night.
Romano-Potocki has assisted placing some of the cats who have come her way into their adoptive forever homes, while some now call their forever home the Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary. She is hoping to expand her rescue to accommodate cats, as a place where they can stay until a permanent home is found. Most of the rescue groups in the area have volunteers that foster cats and dogs in their own homes if they are able. Romano-Potocki said there is a great need for venues for cats especially, due to people who do not spay or neuter their cats, which has created a population boom (click here to view our story about a case in Stillwater, that Romano-Potocki alerted us to, and has been putting her feelers out to help attempt to find rescues and potential adoptees for the cats).
Romano-Potocki would like to continue her work for both the horses she cares for and the cats. She has the grounds and room to do so. Her heart is gladdened as she looks across the meadows on her property, at the horses, some that had been ill, others that were in the “kill pen,” and others, that had been so badly abused by their previous keepers, they trembled in fear when they first arrived. To watch them thrive and have healthy lives, which for some may take a year or more to achieve, gives Romano-Potocki the greatest satisfaction.
“I could save so many more,” she added.
Romano-Potocki is planning a fundraising dinner and music festival as well in the near future, to help continue her labor of love to help the animals of the area.
“It’s 24-hours a day, seven days a week here,” she said. “It’s not for the light at heart.”
For anyone who would like to help Rivers Edge Horse Rescue, and is not able to attend the open house, and/or would like to donate donations can be made by:
1. Calling their feed supplier:
90 Main St. Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Tel: (908) 852-4707
2. Purchasing items from their auction page on Facebook. (Click here)
3. Sponsoring particular horses
4. Check donations, mail to:
Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary
104 Halsey Road
Newton, NJ 07860
Contact Romano-Potocki with any questions:
Tel: (973) 383-9144
Email: RiversEdgeRescue@yahoo.com (also the group’s PayPal account email – PayPal is another way to donate to them).
Click here for the group’s Facebook Page.
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