Elaine Nash launched Fleet of Angels back in 2012, with the idea to create a place where people could go if they needed help saving horses. In just a few short years she has built a nationwide Fleet of Angels who help save lives every day. She and her Angels are also on call during some of our countries greatest disasters, as in hurricanes, wildfires & other natural disasters. When the need arises, Elaine and her team of Angels are on the front line to help where they can! She shares with us a little bit of her background, her love for these majestic animals and we also learn about the heart-warming story “The Hallelujah Horses”.
After more than 13 months FOA (Fleet of Angels) was able to place the last horse in a new home, the total number of horses saved…just over 900! Elaine wanted to show what could be accomplished if people worked together and put the animals first. This accomplishment couldn’t have been done without the love and support from dozens of communities & hundreds of people working tirelessly spanning across several states! The Angels in her network and countless others really came together to save these horses in such a short amount of time – the work they are doing is truly inspirational and should be supported!
Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport now on with our show on a farm ranch in New Mexico. While attending high school, Elaine discovered her love for horses. She started training so called problem horses for her neighbors, and while attending college, she operated her own training stable and became the first freshman ever crowned rodeo queen. After spending the next 20 years in Nashville managing country music celebrities, she decided to move back. West or her Children will be able to grow up owning and riding horses as part of their growing up experience. Now residing in Colorado, Elaine this focused on paying it forward because of what horses have meant to her. Throughout her life, she’s focused on helping at risk courses by helping people help horses and managing the fleet of Angels network of over 12,000 people. While so educating people through public speaking engagements and writing. Hey, Lane, welcome to the program. How you Thank you. Thanks for having me. Why don’t you start up? I told us a little bit about you and what your background is. I grew up on a farm and ranch operation in New Mexico. Lots of animals around Didn’t have really close neighbors. So animals were my buddy. So I enjoyed doing a lot of things, but horses were especially dear to me. I always had horses from the time I was very small. And so have a lifelong love of horses. Have had horses. Um, pretty much all of my life. And, um, now I’m working to try to help horses. Yeah, you’ve had quite a It sounds like you’ve had quite a career is Well, tell us a little bit about that, so I mean, you started out with horses, and then it sounds like that became your passion, even in high school and college. Well, I had sort of a knack with horses. I guess when I was a kid, I could ride just about any horse. I don’t know why, but I just had a connection with them. so that we really got along well. And by the time I was 12 or 14 years old, people were bringing the horses to train for them that they were having difficulty with. And people always would bring the horses and say, This horse does this It sort of rare Zoran. And when I would ride the worst, it wouldn’t even do those space. And so I would just spend time with the horse and try to get it to be more responsive and things and then give it back to the owner. And usually they were very happy with the outcome. Ah, lot of the time a problem with the horse really is of the horse. It’s the owner, So helping the to connect often helps a lot. Yeah, Now that’s really cool. So now So now you did that. That obviously was your passion and you kept doing that. Then you had a career in managing country music celebrities. I did. When I was in college, I went to a college in New Mexico that some colleges are based, the main activity is their best football team, or they have a big football team at our college. We had a rodeo tape and that moved big deal. Everybody went to the rodeo was all about, you know, the cowboy way of life. And I was elected Rodeo Queen, which is sort of the equivalent of homecoming queen, some schools. And because I was the rodeo clean when the country music celebrities would come to the college to do the big concert, I was there to be sort of the host and welcome them and and, um, make sure that they felt greedier than we’re comfortable in all of that. And through that, I got to know a little bit about the inside track off. Their lives were like and it was really interesting to me. And so after college, I moved to Nashville and started a company literally. I rented a house. I used the dining room. I didn’t have much money, so I got some cinder blocks and endure and made a desk and a chair and set it up and started business, and it really just took off. I don’t know why, but, uh, it really was just a good fit for me somehow. And within a year, I had won the biggest award. You can win in that industry. I was awarded Public Relations Company of the Year by the National Entertainment Journalism Association on, So I just started developing the business from their started managing new celebrities and working with some established celebrities. I worked on television shows movie pilot not only with country artists, but Nashville is a is a hub for entertainment. So I worked with some comedians and actors. Got to know some really interesting people all the way from people like George Burns to Neil Young was one of my clients. I was the first person to ever do a major interview with George Strait. I just had a really good time. The Nashville until it just stopped being what I wanted. T o. I just decided one day I want to go back to the West and have horses in my life more and have a family. And I closed up shop and wow, good for you. And obviously good for the horses. So So tell us then how you got into equine rescue. I mean, you went from just a loving horses to this wonderful, fabulous career. And then how did you end up an equine rescue? Well, I had a horse on 18 2 hands black gorgeous stallion, National champion perch, Iran Sport Horse Stallion that I so and the people who Barden agreed with me that they would keep him for the rest of his life. And about 06 months later, I discovered that they no longer had the horse and I was really worried about him, because when I inquired about what had happened to him, they it was hard to get the information and they said that they had just sold into some girl who lived a town away or something, and it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and I started looking to see if I could find that horse and make sure he was okay. And the more I look, the more I learned about what happens to a lot of horses. I really hadn’t been aware that so many American horses air sold for slaughter. I assumed, you know, you take a worse to an auction and sell it at an auction, and somebody else buys it, takes it home, and they all live happily ever after. And I learned that that’s a way Know what happened to shorten the story a little. I did find the horse. He had been sold to someone, um, within the short distance, and I connected. And now I’ve been friends with the new owner of that horse for for years now, Uh, so my story had a happy ending, but a lot of people sell a horse to someone thinking it’s gonna live happily ever after, and that’s not what happened. So when I learned what happens to so many horses and because of what verses have done for me in my life as a kid, I felt like it was time for made it pay forward toa horses for what they had done for me. So I started getting involved in equine rescue. And in doing that I discovered that, and a lot of people said that they would be happy to give an at risk course a home, but they couldn’t afford the transportation to get it there. And I started thinking, You know, a lot of people have a horse trailer parked out beside their barn. Why not turn that into a life saving device and get people if we could People new people with the trailer knew that someone within a reasonable distance needed help getting a horse from Point A to point B. They’d be happy to help. So how can we connect people who need transportation to save aboard, to connect with people who have that transportation? Who would be happy to help if they knew about it? So I created a fleet of angels. Some wonderful people helped me start developing a directory, and we put together a database and the directory and I built a website and we put it up and it just took off from there. It’s the only the only service of its type where people can go and find someone. We have a map on the website where you can go and find the people who are in a certain area. We have a directory that interactive that you can search based on what your needs are. You confined transporters. You can find stabling. You confined, pour in team facilities. You can find people to help with whatever emergency you have all in the fleet of Angels directory and on our map of members. So that’s how that’s how we connect. People who have these life saving devices called horse trailers with the people who are willing and able to save the horses life. If they can get the transportation then and not every member. It’s not something that happens for free, because we often transport horses all the way across the country for someone but every member who registers with fleet of angels. In doing so, they agreed to transport at a discount below normal transportation costs. If it’s an evacuation situation or if it’s helping a worse that 15 or 20 miles away, that’s usually free. But if it’s a long distance, people have to have their cough covered, at least so there’s there’s a charge, but it’s not done for profit. Very cool. Now, what year did you put the site up? I think this is our six year. So back in around 2000 and 12 or so and obviously that when you put it, put it up, you probably had just a handful of people. How big is it grown now? Well, we have close to 12,000 participants. I don’t really know between I think, between three and 4000 who have registered to be on call at any time. Wow, that’s awesome! It’s not enough. We need more. We made more where we also help people in Canada. Canada’s a big country with lots of miles between town sometimes. So we need a lot more people to register with us and get in the database so that if someone needs near the, um, need help, they can be found. I was just concerned. I’d like to have tens of thousands of members, so we’ll get there. Yeah, absolutely. Tell us about some of the ways that people can volunteer. I mean, if somebody is listening to this and saying I would love to help, But I don’t I don’t have a horse trailer. How come they get involved? Well, we need people to do things like help we have. We have the website, um on the Web site, we have an area called Transportation Finder and when people need help, a lot of times they’re sort of in a panic, and they need someone to sort of help walk them through the process. So in our transportation’s under on our website, there’s some steps that you take one as you fill out a request for assistance and you tell us where you are where the horses, where the horse needs to go a little bit about the horse. Um, you know what the situation is and so forth. And then we have a Facebook page called The Network, the Trip networking page, where you write a post about what you need for more for more people to find it there. And then we have the map in the directory. So the people are sort of in a panic to find quick help for there at risk course or a horse that they’re trying to rescue. It’s really nice if there’s someone available to a system with that. So we’re always interested in having volunteers who were signed up to be sort of administrative assistant who can help people through that process. Um, we also need people who can help when we have natural disasters like fires, floods and hurricanes. We always need people to help coordinate in those situations because we’ll have people out in the field with their trucks and trailers picking up forces, and they need to go, you know, three places with a six horse trailer to pick up two horses in each place and gifts, um, somewhere out of the floods owner out of the fire area. And we need people coordinating texting back and forth and using Facebook messaging and maybe emails and phone calls just to get petal coordinated. And we may have dozens of those all going on at the same time. So having people to help do that very nice. Uh, we also always need people to help with fundraising. We do, um, like Quinn. There’s when we have ah, Hurricane, for example. And we’re evacuating hundreds of horses a day out of a hurricane ery they all have to go somewhere. They have to stay there until it’s safe to go back. Then they have to be taken back. So people forget when you’re evacuating out of the area that they have to go home too. So we need people to help help organize that, set that up. And in the meantime, these horses all have to eat. So we’re always doing hey banks and doing fundraising to buy the feed and pay for whatever the horses made. Sometimes they need halters and lead broke and things like that. So, uh, people do whatever fundraisers they think of that they can do themselves in their area. Whether it’s, um, dedicating their birthday to a little fundraiser on Facebook, Lord selling their old pack that they don’t need anymore and donating the sons to fleet of Angels. Anything like that helps with the general fund. If someone wants to help, we can almost always think of some way to put them to work. Yeah, basically, just reach out right. You’ll find something that they can do that tonight. That’s right. Well, it’s really easy to register with Fleet of Angels to get in our database. When you register, it lets you tell us what you have to offer, what your talents are, so it can be marketing, outreach, recruiting. That’s another thing we need. We need people to be helping us find more people with trailers to register to be on hand. So things like that. So you tell us what you’re good at. We’ll find a way to make it help Horses. All people have to do is just ready strong the website and in the directory, and that puts them in our database. Very cool. So tell me. I know you mentioned the hurricanes and I was reading on your site about the hallelujah horses. I mean, tell me about some of the situations where you’ve you’ve been able to call your network into action. Well, hurricanes are something we do, you know, pretty much every year. There are hurricanes in the East Texas area and along the southern coast and a lot of the time on the Eastern Coast going up, uh, through Florida and Georgia and Virginia and the state. So we have something called the Horse Helpers Directory and a lot of the time that’s different. That’s a different directory than the one we offer for Daily Rescue on our plate of Angels website. Because people you know doing evacuation, this sort of a different, different situation. It’s all emergency. It’s all right now. It’s all you. You sign up with us now and we may give you on assignment 10 minutes from now. So we have something called the Horse Helpers Directory. And when we have an event like Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma was in Florida, people get on Facebook alone the time and try to coordinate evacuation, and this year put on a post on Facebook that says I have a barn that’ll hold 15 horses where I have a pasture, you complete your horses and that post disappears, you know, in five minutes it’s gone down the page. Nobody’ll ever see it again? So we have people who views our Facebook pages that we have for that for managing these hurricane events. And we we work all that information into our horse helpers directory so that people who need help can go to the directory and find it really easily. And it includes a lot more things like we have people who offer their boat. Sometimes we have to go into flooded areas after hurricanes and find horses that have been stranded and lead them out swimming with, you know, people holding in a boat, holding a lead rope, swimming behind to get them to safety. All kinds of things like that happen. That’s that’s what we do. We we coordinate basically where the I guess the primary coordinator of equal evacuations. For any of the big natural disasters that happened in the country, the Hallelujah Horses mission is a completely different different, saying it’s the only time we’ve done that kind of mission. On October 12th 2016 I got a phone call from state’s attorney of South Dakota, explaining that they had impounded hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of wild horses on a private. I think the owner called it a preservation, ah conservation facility, but they had gotten a lot of wild horses from four or five different herds over the years. Turned the map on small pastures. There were about 600 a little over 600 acres. Very barren, bland, no trees, no hills, no shelter of any kind, just pastures. And they put a herd in each of these four pastures, and they had multiplied to the point where there were almost 1000 horses. It turned out to be 907 horses. The director of this organization wasn’t able to raise enough money to keep them all sad. And so they were. There were horses starving to death. There were versus in terrible condition. There’s never been any breeding management, whatever, no gilding, just almost as many stallion’s of mayors in these herds, and just breeding and breeding inbreeding. So finally, uh, I think we’re in such bad shape that they got impounded and the state of South Dakota put a lien on 2/3 of the herd of the total horses to pay for the seed that they were feeding these horses. And they contacted me and asked us to hot to find homes for the remaining horses that they didn’t put the lean on. And it was about 272 300 horses that they needed us to find homes for work in the middle of winter blizzard. Whether it was down to 40 below 0 50 mile an hour winds. There were snow drifts up to 20 feet high. Snowdrifts covered the fences. The facility, uh, had no infrastructure for doing any time, that gathering of horses or sorting of horses. We had to buy thousands and thousands of dollars worth of panel. And even those panels big, tall, preferred panels ended up being covered in snowdrifts. Course it when they finally, they finally were gathered in a few horses at a time, they could walk right out over the snowdrifts and get back out again. Uh, we took a team. I stayed in Colorado and worked on recruiting and finding adopters and fundraising and putting it all together coordinating at all and, uh, a lady named Palomino Armstrong went up there with a team of I guess we had most of the time. There were four people on occasion. There were maybe six people with a couple of local guys coming in to help. And they worked in that unbelievable weather. It was so the snow is blowing so far that you couldn’t see a gray horse 10 feet in front of you, and horses were just scattered all over the place. It was it was just horrific, but we pulled it off. We got we got almost 300 horses, every horse, state lettuce, adopt out. We got them out. Uh, we had an adoption process. Everyone who adopted had to apply. We adopted almost every horse in a pair of two forces that were bonded, or family members or small groups of forces so that horses didn’t have to go off by themselves into a new world. And by the middle of December, we had accomplished that goal. Then we found out or in the process of this, we found out that they were going toe auction off all the rest of the horses over 600 at an option that was set for December 20th in terrible weather right before Christmas when nobody was going to come other than kill buyers, you know, to that country Goodbye. These horses, they were gonna have an auction and auction them along. We found out that kill buyers were already on their way. They had trucks on the road on the way up there. And I thought, you know, we just cannot let this happen. So I contacted uh, Nether de Mayo of Return to Freedom Sanctuary and Wild Horse Education Program in California and asked for her help. Food networked with A S, P C, a humane society and a private investor or donor named Patricia Griffin so awful in California. And within just a few days, we raised 100 and $50,000 paid off. Lean to the state. We paid off the lean to the States to release those horses from the auction and got the auction canceled. They had us agreed to take over all the care of the horses from that point forward. So I had to do Major major fundraising. I’ve never done fundraising in my life. I’ve never even sold Girl Scout cookies So big time fundraising to keep all those horses fed the court day. That was to determine the final outcome of our. The determination of what who would own those horses was set for the end of January. And so between mid December and the end of January, we were paying for the feed and care of all the sources. But we couldn’t do anything about them until we read it for the court to decide. Decide the night before the hearing that was said, the state made a settlement with the owner. The director of this organization had the horses and let her keep 20 courses, and they turned all the rest over the ownership of the rest over to fleet of angels. So we suddenly found ourselves the end of January in the middle of one of the worst winters they’ve ever had up there, owning 600 starving horses, horses with 8 12 inches long or more, uh, Mayor’s were having folds that we’re freezing to death, being born horses with broken legs and ankles and shoulders and missing eyes and all kinds of things that we had to deal with, and the court gave us from the point they turned them over to us into January until the end of March. We had 60 days to use that property as our base to find homes for many horses as we could. So we got a lot of horses out to in bigger numbers to sanctuaries who took one. Took a whole herd of the horses, which was over 121. Took 51 horses. One took 28 horses. One took 30 horses. So we got down to 312 forces by the end of March. Uh, at that point, I was up there, and so was Barbara rests. Listen who, uh, actually shoes If there’s the whole time she was our adoption manager, and, uh, she operated from that location and then I got up there at the end of January and stayed for two months. We all stay for two months in a little hotel up there, getting all of this done. Uh, at the end of that time, we had 312 horses and we moved them all to Fort Collins, Colorado, to a fabulous facility. I had found that had the right size pins and shoots and gates and alleyways and everything. Windbreaks and shelter, special pans for horses that were needing special care and special place for the mayor’s to have their babies. So the world that those horses changed a lot when we brought them to Colorado. Most of those sources we adopted out two or three at a time. Two individuals and one day at one year and one day after owning, you know, taking custody of those horses, we found homes for the very last one. That’s awesome. I I was in a hotel nonstop to different hotels one in South Dakota and one in Colorado for 10 months of last year. What an amazing story of how you’re able to do this. It was a every waking moment project to find that many of doctors and raise that much money. And to keep that thing going, it took absolute and total focus. You know, no entertainment, no television. I’ve had a television on four, probably no more than two hours in the last year and 1/2 because of work. Do you miss project? Thousands of people helped. There were so many people who donated anything from $10 to tens of thousands of dollars a S P C. A. We couldn’t have done it without them Humane society. We couldn’t have done it without them. Nada de Mayo returned to freedom. We couldn’t have done it without her best friends, uh, animal organization. We couldn’t have done it without them. There are so many who helped. You know it, Really. It was the largest rescue of horses in the history of the country. And I’m told that it’s sort of anyone knows It’s the largest individual rescue of horses in the world. And it’s all because so many people came together and worked unselfishly to accomplish this goal of getting all of these horses who had been in such a terrible situation for so long into good homes. And we did it. Teamwork works. That’s our mantra. Teamwork works. There’s definitely a place for everybody, an animal rescue, and we’ve all got to work together absolutely, absolutely so important that people you know, everyone just look in the mirror and say, What can I do to help and don’t think about what can I do to get attention, or what can I do that serves me? It’s what can I do to somehow serve animals? in a productive way. And if everyone will do that, we can solve a lot of the problems that exist today. Absolutely agreed through Lane. Well, listen, I really appreciate you coming on the program and sharing your story and about your organization. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up? Well, there’s always a lot to say about, uh, people just pitching in and doing what they can. You know, I guess I’d like to say this. The problem seems so big with dogs and cats and exotic animals and equines and farm animals. The problem seems so big, You almost think. Why? Why should I bother? It won’t make a dent. But if you look at things like the Hallelujah Horses missions where everybody works together, it made more than a dance. We can we can make a huge difference. So I’d like for people to not ever become discouraged and think what they have to offer isn’t enough, because it is absolutely well, thank you, Elaine. So much for coming on the program today. We appreciate it. Absolutely. Thank you for having us. Thanks for your interest in our work. 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