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December 29, 2012

A haven for horses

WEST NEWBURY — Horses have galloped the Earth for millions of years, but when man domesticated them about 6,000 years ago, a special and enduring bond was formed.

Throughout history, these regal animals have helped to shape human and societal development — pulling our ploughs and stagecoaches, herding our cattle, carrying our hunters across the plains and our soldiers into battle. In recent years, horses have gained popularity as sources of entertainment, sport and companionship.

So for horse-lovers like Mary Martin, owner of New England Equine Rescue-North, caring for horses in their time of need just seems like a natural way to give back to these loyal partners.

“They are such noble creatures — so forgiving and trusting,” she said.

Martin grew up around horses as a girl in Topsfield and has worked in the equine rescue business for 10 years. For the past three years, she has run her NEER-North organization on 58 acres leased on River Road. But Martin is hopeful the new year will bring with it some new digs for her operation.

As president of NEER-North, Martin and her “great and very loyal volunteers” work to locate horses, ponies and donkeys in risk of abuse, neglect or slaughter and rehabilitate them for adoption.

Right now, she has nine horses in her stables and three out on trial for potential adoption. Two miniature horses and one large pony are arriving in early 2013.

NEER-North is a satellite barn of the original NEER organization founded in 2005 by Beth Hill-Ross of Rhode Island. This past year, NEER-North earned an independent, nonprofit tax status, got a nod from the state Department of Agriculture, and received a top rating from the online review site Great Nonprofits.

And if that isn’t enough good news, Martin just learned that a generous horse-lover is providing a substantial donation to help NEER-North find a permanent property to call its own. Martin is eyeing a place locally and has launched a “Home of Our Own” campaign to help raise the $200,000 in additional funds needed to move forward on the deal. She said tax-deductible donations toward the purchase are much appreciated.

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