Category: On animals

An anniversary celebration at Equamore horse sanctuary

By Midge Raymond,

John and I were privileged to spend another afternoon at the Equamore horse sanctuary, for a very special event: the one-year anniversary of Sara and her “person,” Equamore board vice-president Ruth Kennedy.

Being a “person” to Sara means walking, grooming, and visiting her — as well as proffering treats (Sara and Ruth share an apple at the end of nearly every day). After Sara was rescued from severe neglect by Equamore back in 2008, she was placed twice in adopted homes and twice returned. In February of 2010, the sanctuary became her permanent home — and the extra attention of having a special person in her life has really helped relax her, Ruth says. And this is something well worth celebrating.

This festive array of flowers, cider, and cupcakes was originally in front of Sara’s stall but had to be moved away due to her nibbling. And though Sara didn’t get the cupcakes she was after, she did get her share of celebratory treats, including her daily apple.

Sara and the other forty-six rescued and retired horses at Equamore are among the very lucky ones — only a fraction of the horses in need find sanctuary at places like this. Equamore receives numerous calls from desperate owners who can no longer care for their horses, as well as from concerned citizens who see cruelty or neglect and are helpless to intervene. You can help in many ways—from sponsoring a horse ($350 per month) to feeding one horse for a week ($12 per month) to making a one-time donation; every bit helps! Visit Equamore’s website,, for more information—and click here to learn how to donate and/or volunteer.

  Category: Ashland news, On animals
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Discovering Ashland’s Equamore Foundation

By Midge Raymond,

I am always amazed and awed by those who dedicate their lives to helping animals — while the rewards are many, it’s also incredibly challenging work, not only physically but emotionally. It’s always wonderful to find yet another organization devoted to helping animals live safe, healthy, happy lives after being neglected or abused … and Ashland’s Equamore Foundation is one of these places.

At its sanctuary just outside Ashland, Equamore and its staff and volunteers currently care for forty-six retired and formerly abused, neglected, or abandoned horses. John and I were privileged to meet about a dozen of these magnificent creatures one recent afternoon, and I wanted to share a couple of their stories to highlight what amazing work this organization is doing.

Destiny is a stunning Thoroughbred mare whose owners had planned to put her down because they “didn’t want her anymore.” She was thin, needed basic hoof and dental care, and had a bad wound on her hoof that still causes her to occasionally lose her balance. Because she has arthritis in both knees, she is not fit to ride — but thanks to the Equamore Foundation and a sponsorship, she will live out the rest of her life, safe and sound and well cared for, at the sanctuary. As you can see, she is still a little thin — but absolutely beautiful.

Another rescue, Star, had been left to starve in a field at the age of three. Seized by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, she was transported to the sanctuary by Equamore volunteers, where she could receive care and food. Here are a couple photos of Star from around the time she was rescued.

Star had never worn a halter and was afraid of humans, but after several weeks, volunteers were able to gain her trust and lead her out to the field for exercise. She is now doing so well it’s hard to imagine her once having been fearful of humans — when I met her, she was friendly and affectionate, and she happily and gently ate carrots from my hand. Just look at this sweet face.

To learn more about Equamore, visit the website, where you can read about the horses and the rescue efforts, about boarding and training (these services help support the organization’s mission), about events, and about how to donate. For as little as $12 a month (just 4o cents a day!), you can help feed a horse for a week; you can also make a one-time donation or become a volunteer. I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired by their good work as we are.

  Category: Ashland news, On animals
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Q&A with Blair Richmond, author of The Lithia Trilogy

By Midge Raymond,

A Q&A with Blair Richmond, author of The Ghost Runner and Out of Breath 

Q: What gave you the idea for The Lithia Trilogy? Did it begin as a trilogy or as just one book?

A: I remember watching the Twilight movie and silently simmering as Ed Cullen explained how he and his family were “vegetarian” vampires. Ed Cullen may be easy on the eyes, but he’s no vegetarian. I guess we were supposed to feel better that the Cullens only killed animals instead of people, but I wasn’t sold on the idea. I love animals. So I went home and tried to forget about it, but I just couldn’t. And soon my crazy imagination took over, and I began thinking about the character of Kat—a young woman, a runaway, who hides out in a small town in southern Oregon.

I had a feeling when I set out to write Out of Breath that I wouldn’t say everything I wanted in just one book. But I didn’t think then I had a trilogy in me—and I’m still not completely sure (I’m still working on book three!).

What I did know is that I wanted to write a book set in southern Oregon. I live here and love the area and the people, and it’s hard for my mind not to imagine paranormal stories set here.

I knew I wanted to write a book about a runaway who takes cover in a magical town of many secrets, only to realize that she cannot outrun her past. I wanted to write about a young woman who believes she can make a difference in the world. And succeeds, in ways she doesn’t expect. And I wanted to write a book about love. About how love can turn a person—even a vampire—into something different, something better.

And as it turned out, I couldn’t say everything I wanted to say even in two books. That’s when I knew it would be a trilogy. And then, I think I’ll be done!

Q: Is the character of Kat based on you? That is, are you also a vegan and a competitive runner?

A: I wish I was as good a runner as Kat! But she and I do share a love of animals and nature. I think Kat is the person I wish I was when I was much younger. A strong-willed woman with unending optimism about changing the planet.


Q: What made you decide to use vampires as an analogy for writing about animal protection and veganism?

A: First, I love vampire novels. I’m attracted to lost and damaged souls, and vampires fit the bill. But I also thought that if a vampire could give up on blood, there would be hope for all of us.

I believe everyone is capable of making great changes in their lives. Giving up meat was, for me, an extremely difficult change. My family wasn’t supportive. I alienated a few good friends (and made a few new friends along the way). And I mostly felt alienated myself. Because vegans are still a minority in the world.

I realized that there were emotional similarities between a vegan (Kat) and a vampire (Roman) and I wanted to explore this more.


Q: Why do you write for young adults rather than an adult audience?

A: My books may be labeled YA, but I first write for myself, which I suppose makes me an overgrown young adult. But I guess I also focus on young adults because they are our future. And if this world is going to be saved—and I believe it will—it will be thanks to this generation. My generation (and I won’t be any more specific than that) has kicked the environmental can down the road for far too long. The younger generation is not going to repeat our mistakes. At least that’s my hope.


Q: What do you hope your readers learn from reading your books?

A: I hope readers enjoy the journey as much as I have. I hope they love Kat and maybe learn a thing or two about Oregon—also about how veganism and environmentalism are so closely connected. And I hope young people are inspired to change the world.


Northwest VegFest 2012

By Midge Raymond,

For all of you Northwest folks out there, this weekend (September 22 and 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) is Northwest VegFest, held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. We are unable to participate in person this year, but if you go, you’ll likely catch sight of our ReadVeg stickers:

…and we’ve donated a few of our veg-friendly books for raffles and giveaways.

We’re sorry to miss the festival, though — this list of vendors is impressive; from Coconut Bliss and Theo Chocolate to FARM and the U.S. Humane Society, it’s sure to be a weekend of deliciousness, education, and inspiration.

Click this link for event info and details — and don’t forget to check out the schedule of speakers, demonstrations, and family activities as well.

What Is Missing?

By John Yunker,

Maya Lin has developed what she says is her last memorial.

And it’s a sad one at that.

What is Missing?

The home page is a world map depicted in dots. Each dot represents an endangered or extinct species or endangered ecosystem.

Some of the dots lead to videos of such animals as the African Penguin (which could go extinct in the next 20 years) and others, including forest elephants and right whales.

It’s easy to lose track of time while exploring this site. But it is time well spent.