Wild Heart Sanctuary readies fundraiser | ParkRecord.com

Wild Heart Sanctuary readies fundraiser

The Wild Heart Sanctuary is as much for the mustangs it houses as it is for people who visit.

The ranch, which is part of reinfree.org, a nonprofit wild mustang rescue organization, is located in Silver Creek and provides a sanctuary for the animals as well as equine facilitated learning and healing sessions for people, especially veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, those afflicted with cancer, at-risk teens and people suffering from addiction.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, Wild Heart Sanctuary will host a live-canvas painting fundraiser, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

The event will be an exclusive, live viewing of internationally acclaimed artist Jabu as he paints a canvas inspired by the sanctuary's mustangs, according to owner Sonya Richins.

"This will all take place under the full moon where people will enjoy beautiful music, mountain views, and gourmet vegan food," Richins told The Park Record during a ranch tour. "Jabu, who is from South Africa, will paint two live paintings that night and those will be available in a private auction at the event."

Registration is $75 and people can register by visiting http://www.wild-heart-sanctuary.com.

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The event will raise money to help with the care of the horses.

"I produced a documentary called 'Mestengo,' nine years ago after I found out from the Humane Society that the BLM rounds up wild mustangs and put them in holding pens to clear them off the land," Richins said. "Unfortunately, some of the horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter."

Richins knew she needed to do something, so she sought backers for her film.

"After I raised money, I hired some artsy filmmakers to make the documentary," she said.

Richins' next step was to make a follow-up film and she visited the Herriman Holding Pens to take photographs.

That's where she met her first horses, the mare Windwalker and her filly Noble Moon.

"They rounded up these mares and their babies and ran them 20 miles with helicopters and put them in stock trailers," Richins said. "They separated the families, branded them and castrated the stallions, many without anesthesia."

The scene horrified Richins.

"Windwalker was running around a pen looking for Noble Moon, and when she rounded a corner, she hit the fence and dislocated her jaw," she said. "Because of that, they were going to put her into the slaughter pen."

Richins asked about the fate of Noble Moon.

"I was told she would figure that out herself," Richins said.

Unfortunately, this was just part of Windwalker's ordeal.

"As they roped her stallion, they broke his neck and he was killed," Richins said.

That's when Richins' anger and compassion took over.

"I told them then that I would buy these horses and I did, even though I lived in the Avenues in Salt Lake City at the time," she said with a laugh. "I was told if I could find a place to house them within five miles of the holding pens that they would truck them there."

Richins called around and found a place.

"They had five acres available and Windwalker and Noble Moon were there for a whole year before moving to Bountiful for another four years," Richins said.

Knowing she needed to find a permanent home, Richins' answer came with a phone call from her realtor who told her about the land where Wild Heart Sanctuary now stands.

"I cashed out everything, my life savings and 401K, for the down payment and built the Wild Heart Sanctuary three years and two months ago," she said.

Wild Heart Sanctuary, which is located at Silver Creek, sits on eight acres, with seven-and-a-half acres that feature rescue regulation fencing.

"If you rescue mustangs, you must have five-and-a-half foot fencing with shelter and water," Richins said. "The horses have all of that here and little more."

Wild Heart Sanctuary, an advocacy and seven-acre refuge for wild mustangs, will host a fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Jabu, an internationally acclaimed artist, will create stunning paintings inspired by the mustangs during the event. There will also be food, beverages, live music, silent and live auctions and photos with the mustangs by an award-winning photographer. Proceeds will help support two new mustangs that joined the Wild Heart herd. Attendees must be at least 18. For tickets, visit http://www.Wild-Heart-Sanctuary.com. For more information email wildheartsanctuary@gmail.com.

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