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Barn Bash to raise funds for equine rescue
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Jeannine Etheridge is shown grooming rescue horse Willow at her home, which doubles as a housing facility for some of the horses cared for by Oakdale Equine Rescue. To date over 360 horses have passed through the rescue, most finding permanent homes. The not for profit will host its Second Annual Barn Bash on Sept. 23. - photo by TERESA HAMMOND/The Journal

The Oakdale Equine Rescue has saved more than 360 horses since its inception in 2010. What started with just six horses only six years ago has evolved into the Oakdale based non-profit organization whose mission is to rehabilitate, foster and find homes for each horse they accept.

To help the rescue care for even more horses, the nonprofit is hosting the Second Annual Benefit Barn Bash on Sept. 23 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale. Doors open for the event at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 each or $250 for a table of eight. Tickets are available or by calling (209) 614-2338.

The event was first offered in 2014, when then-Oakdale High School senior Ashley Caron took on a community project after being inspired by her participation with Gallo Early Start Leadership Camp. A total of $10,000 was raised at the inaugural 2014 event, which aided with paying for surgery for a horse battling cancer, as well as filling the barn with hay.

“This is the first year I’ve done it and put it together with Ashley’s help,” Oakdale Equine Rescue co-founder and board member Jeannine Etheridge said. “My goal is a little more than $10,000 this year. We’re getting more people coming. Our goal is 250 to 300 people.”

According to Etheridge, the event was skipped in 2015 due to the Butte Fire. The rescue group was instrumental in transporting animals burned during the fire to UC Davis.

Etheridge and Lora Handley first became acquainted over six years ago during their time with an equine not for profit, which they later learned was not operating above board.

“At the time we ended up with six horses and I managed to get a hold of Lora and get all the horses in a secure location,” Etheridge recounted of the underhanded not for profit and its victims.

Both women share a passion for horses and saving as many as they are able. Many have found new homes, while others have been put to rest peacefully.

Oakdale Equine Rescue received its 501(c)3 status in late 2010. It’s a fact they both felt was important given past experience and how they met.

“We’re not in it for the money,” Etheridge said of the rescue and the overall experience. “We’re in it for every horse that comes in and (for everyone that) is adopted out, another can come in.”

Etheridge and Handley each house rescued horses on their properties and utilize the services of five foster families.

“Lora is like the guru for medically treating horses with open wounds,” Etheridge said. “She has taught me a lot. I came into this blind.

“I started this (volunteering), because of my daughter,” Etheridge continued. “She was 11 at the time and her school project was to get involved with a non-profit or something she liked to get involved with as a career. Three hundred and sixty one horses later and she has one.”

As a volunteer for a once shady organization, Etheridge encourages donors and fellow volunteers to check out any and all not for profits including hers.

“I tell people all the time, when you donate, make sure it’s a 501(c)3,” she said, “because that’s what other rescues are doing and they’re just getting the money.”

The group is also looking for a main sponsor, she added.

“We have one sponsor who has been following us for years. She has adopted two horses from us,” Etheridge said, noting that they can always use more assistance.

As picky as the women are with whom they allow to foster or volunteer, they are just as picky with interested adoptees.

“We want to make sure that when these horses go to their new home, it’s where they will be loved and cared for and stay,” she said. “The goal is to get them healthy and to good homes.”