EQ G I V I N G B A C K
Villa Chardonnay BY ALEXANDRA LYNCH
A California safe haven that offers the last hope for UNWANTED HORSES.
heir journey began with a horse that captured the beauty and richness of a glass of chardonnay. Injured and afraid, sweet Chardonnay was on her way to slaughter. After they stumbled across her story online, animal lovers Monika Kerber and Louise Gardner knew they had to save the beautiful creature from a gruesome end. Chardonnay became the inspiration for what has become one of the largest and most reputable equine sanctuaries on the West Coast. Founded in 2004 by Kerber and Gardner, equine safe-haven Villa Chardonnay has grown exponentially and now cares for an incredible 140 abandoned horses, as well as a menagerie that includes 8 rescued donkeys, 3 rescued goats, 3 turkeys, over 40 homeless cats, and 13 rescued dogs.
battered and worn to be useful to most, leaving them destined for a bitter end at the slaughterhouse. Villa Chardonnay gives a forever home to horses with cancer, blindness, Cushing’s disease, or other serious physical ailments that have no other options. Despite the endless hours it requires, Kerber and Gardner make it their mission to provide these deserving animals with the love and care they were never offered. “It is a wonderful environment for these animals to spend the rest of their days,” Goglanian said. “Villa Chardonnay’s concern is never whether they can turn a profit. Their only concern is to rescue the animals and provide them with remarkable care.” G OA L TO B E SEL F- SU STA I NI NG
E V E RY A N I M AL IS DIFFERENT
“They really get to know each and every animal,” Villa Chardonnay volunteer Denise Goglanian said. “They let horses that don’t like to be in closed quarters roam in the fields unbothered, and they notice each and every horse’s needs and preferences. It is a true testament to how much time they spend with their horses.” Though many abandoned horses are healthy and able to be adopted to homes as lesson mounts or show ponies, a great number are too
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In an effort to support more neglected animals, Villa Chardonnay has started a capital campaign to urgently gather funds to move their animal sanctuary to a self-sustaining facility in southern California, where they will continue to help animals in need, grow their own hay, and preserve land. “Having a larger property where we could grow most of our alfalfa hay would help tremendously with our monthly costs,” Kerber said. “It would also give our horses more room to run and enjoy themselves.” Villa Chardonnay’s new location will allow the sanctuary to provide a forever home to even more abused and deserving creatures.
Top: Villa Chardonnay co-founder Monika Kerber and Pedro. Above: Happy residents at the sanctuary.