An Everyday Hero: The Horse Rescuer

By Lauren Morency DePhillips
Lauren Morency DePhillips
Lauren Morency DePhillips
October 10, 2013 Updated: October 10, 2013

NEWBURG, Oregon—Jacquie Lukens rescued her first horse over 15 years ago. Today she continues to save horses from slaughter, abuse, starvation, euthanization, and negligence. She wants to give them all a chance at a happy and peaceful life. 

Hoofprints in the Sand Rescue is in the sprawling countryside. Among vineyards and forests, more than 20 horses graze peacefully in open pasture.

Some have scars, some limp, and one is blind. The more recent rescues are still emaciated, but are adapting well to their new home and carefree life. “Maybe 1 percent are in good health … but I take what’s thrown at me and work with it, make them happy and healthy,” Lukens said, speaking of when she and her husband are called to rescue a horse, and occasionally a cat or dog. 

No horse is put down, or not given the care it needs, including surgery.

“We don’t turn away anything, if there’s a creature that needs help we’re here,” she said. It has not been easy. Up until a year ago Lukens’ husband, Dave was supplementing the rescue operation with his income. 

Neighboring farms would offer a small patch of land where the Lukens could grow and harvest hay for feed. 

Their daughter, son, and several volunteers also help around the farm. Lukens’ daughter has been riding horses for most of her life. She trains horses, gives lessons and recruits friends who help out, and sometimes even adopt. 

The farm also offers cheap board, the income from which can help pay for veterinary care. Once an animal is restored to health Lukens is on the constant lookout for new homes for the rescued horses. Many of the volunteers who come to help with the farm have adopted their own horses from Hoofprints in the Sand. 

News of the farm has spread by word of mouth, via friends and neighbors. In the past, those who donated were unable to take charitable deductions on their taxes because the Luken’s horse rescue was not an official charity. But Lukens just got Hoofprints in the Sand registered as an official non-profit, so gifts will be deductible. Lukens hopes she may now be able to find grants to help the horses.

“I’m not good at calling people for money, [we rescue] free of charge, and we accept donations,” said Lukens. 

As for the reason Lukens and her family devote time, energy, money and love to this cause, Lukens summed it up simply, “We believe the horse has the right to a quality of life, the horse has a right to live.”