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Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Grapeview nonprofit rescues, rehabilitates horses of all sizes

Janean Dolezal has a lifelong love of horses great and small. She got her first horse, a pony, at 11 years old. "I asked my parents for a horse ever since I could speak," she said.

When the Grape view resident outgrew the pony, her family gave it to relatives so she could get a bigger horse. They soon learned that the pony was not being well taken care of, and had lost weight. "My mother, God bless her, hitched up the horse trailer," Janean said.

They took the horse back home, and kept it for the rest of its life.

Today, Janean still saves horses in need of a little extra love. She and her husband, Ray, own Sunrise Equine Rescue on Mason Benson Road in Grapeview. Since 2008, they have rescued 21 horses, many of which have been adopted out to loving and responsible homes.

The Dolezals don't just rehabilitate horses and adopt them out to new owners - they also use the rescued horses for recreational therapy programs for children and adults.

"It's a good lesson for kids or even adults who have been neglected - you can reinvent yourself," said Ray, who called the horses "healing creatures."

They also run a horse boarding and training business, Sunrise Stables, at the same location. In 2003, when they bought the property, Janean said she envisioned simply having a space for their own horses, and a boarding and training facility.

"Me and some of my boarders started individually rescuing horses," she said. "We all became friends and decided we should do this for real."

In 2008, Sunrise Equine Rescue became a registered charitable organization in Washington, and the next year got its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Because creation of the nonprofit coincided with a national recession, the Dolezals have never had to look far to find horses in need.

"It's a problem," Ray said. "That's part of the emphasis we have on education."

Many horse breeds can live into their 30s or 40s, the Dolezals said.

Some horse owners don't understand the commitment of time and money it takes to keep the horses healthy through their life, Ray said.

"People think a horse is used up at 20 — you can rehab it," he said. "There's a big problem with the education. People don't realize their horse is in bad shape — they're still riding them. You can't just throw them out in a field and let them eat grass."

Sunrise has an extensive adoption process for its horses. The nonprofit retains the right to take back adopted horses whose owners can't or don't take care of them. The nonprofit has a no breeding policy for all horses it rescues.

If a horse can't be adopted because of a medical or behavioral issue, they keep it for the rest of its life.

Sunrise Equine Rescue has eight rescued horses at its stables. The horses come from all kinds of environments, Janean said. Most have been abandoned, neglected or abused, and many have health problems, she said.

"The last rescue I got, I actually went to their door and asked for their horse," she said. "We heard they were going to shoot her the next day."

Many horses are malnourished and underweight when they arrive. Some have skin issues such as rain rot, a fungal infection caused by too much time spent in the rain. Others have injuries or chronic ailments in their hooves and legs.

Romeo, a palomino gelding, requires special horseshoes and Jasper, a thoroughbred gelding, is blind in one eye.

When they bring a new horse into the stable, the Dolezals and their many volunteers start feeding the animals a nutritious diet of hay and other feed. Next come visits from veterinarians and ferriers.

"Then they just start blossoming," Janean said. "It's amazing how fast they come back."

After addressing the horse's physical health, volunteers work to reso-cialize the horses with people and other animals.

"They need to redevelop the trust," Ray said.

Often, the horses bounce back in a few months, Janean said.

"They're so forgiving, it doesn't matter what they've been through," she said.

For more information, to volunteer or donate to the nonprofit, go to

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Original Publication Date: August 7, 2014

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