By Dawn Cranfield
Horsepower – More than an Advocacy Group, an Organization Headed by the Heart of an Angel
Northern Nevada is has been facing an environmental, moral and ethical crisis for decades as communities struggle with what to do with the growing population of horses and burros. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the struggle between man and nature.
Sally Summers, the founder of Horsepower, is a uniquely spiritual individual; immediately warm and gracious, it is easy to be drawn into her vision of saving all equine on the range and releasing them back to the environment. While she is understandably cautious of journalists, I was honored to be granted an interview on a cold Virginia City afternoon.
Horsepower is a non-profit organization “focusing on preservation of Wild Mustangs and Burros.” Their mission statement is to “Our mission is to financially aid those groups, organizations and individuals that care for wild, estray, 2nd chance, horses, burros or mules.” They also seek to “address their needs as they provide food, medical training, transportation, education, humane habitation and treatment improving the quality of life for these equines.” (nvhorsepower.com)
Summers, formerly a radio personality, was inspired to help the wild equine when she heard about 34 horses being sexually assaulted and massacred in 1998 by three men. The men were prosecuted; however, they received a “slap on the wrist” according to Summers; except for a former Marine who received a stiffer sentence.
In 2000, Summers determined to create the first specialized license plate celebrating the wild animals. She worked with a local Christian artist to create the look she wanted portraying them in the most positive light. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the plates goes to support their cause.
Those plates led Horsepower to one of their most inspirational and motivational wins for the group. To hear Summers recall it brought a tear to my eye; the local television station had been running an advertisement for the original “Number One” plate (the plate with “1” on it).
Several times Summers called the station to tell them the plate was no longer available and asked them to stop running the ad. However, they continued to play it. Then one day, she received a phone call from Scott Jolcover, a representative from Comstock Mining Inc. in Virginia City. They wanted the Number One plate; when she explained it was no longer available but she had Number Seven, they declined.
Summers then realized she had the plate with all zeros and mentioned it to Jolcover. When he seemed interested, she revealed that it was usually reserved for government officials. Finally, she gave in and agreed to allow Comstock Mining Inc. to bid on the plate for a donation.
Meanwhile, Summers was reviewing the organization’s needs for a new trailer for horse rescue; they needed $11,000.
The next day, Jolcover called again with a donation of $11,000 for the plate with all zeros. Comstock Mining Inc. would pay $5,500, and the mine’s Chairman of the Board, John Winfield, would personally pay the other $5,500.
The plate now graces Comstock Mining’s Inc. Yukon truck, another spiritual connection with Horsepower’s Summers. When she found out, she was thrilled because the Yukon horse has special meaning to her as well.
Summers named a horse on her property JW after John Winfield, whom she affectionately calls John Wayne.
Horsepower is not an advocacy group; they are a charity foundation. Their goal is to “educate people and groups, raise awareness, and contribute to the real life needs of these beautiful animals (wild Mustang horses and Burros)”. (nvhorsepower.com)
Horsepower is now in need of a new Duramax, King Cab, 4-door, Diesel truck. They take people out on the range to show them what it is like to see the wild animals running free on the range and “hook” them; then take them to the round ups, and then show them what it is like after a round-up.
While the issues facing the wild horses and burros cannot be solved in a day, Summers lives it day in and day out; her heart is all in.
If you would like more information on Horsepower, please visit http://www.nvhorsepower.com/
or contact them at Telephone: 775.849.3879
Mail: 3235 Eastlake Blvd. No. 26, Washoe Valley, Nevada 89704