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Out of Chaos Comes Compassion

From Tragedy to Tenderness an Equine Rescue is Born in Cazenovia, N.Y.

  • Author: canpubco
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Out of Chaos Comes Compassion

The scene was grim, and the horses needed immediate rescue, but the CNY SPCA had no place to care for them. They asked Marion Secor, owner of Skanda, if she would take them in. Marion said yes, and never looked back.  This was the beginning of the journey that became the new nonprofit organization, The Haven at Skanda, on Mosley Road in Cazenovia, Madison County New York.

The ponies arrived emaciated and terrified, and some did not survive. The greatest heartbreak was a beautiful, trusting foal that Marion named Modig, or Little Moe, for the Swedish word meaning Brave. Little Moe was blind, and so weak he could not stand, and had to be hand-fed and given water through a syringe. Even in this struggle, he showed enormous love and trust towards those who cared for him, calling out to anyone entering the barn. Little Moe touched the hearts of everyone who met him, and brought the community together to try to help him survive: volunteer firefighters and members of the Amish community came to the farm to help Little Moe stand, and a member of the equine community donated soft straw so that he would feel softness, and be comfortable. Little Moe passed away only a week after being rescued, but his memory now lives on in the Little Moe 5K race that Skanda created to honor his incredible love and bravery, and to raise money and awareness for horse rescue so that no horse need suffer as he did. (The Little Moe 5K Walk/Run will take place on May 13th at Green Lakes State Park, and all proceeds go to support horse rescue.)

In caring for the 13 survivors of this herd, Marion proceeded with love and patience, allowing each to move at their own pace. Three of the mares had arrived pregnant, and it was a beautiful moment when all three foals were born healthy and strong. As the ponies relaxed out of trauma and emerged into softness and tenderness, Marion and Skanda realized the enormous gift the ponies were to the farm, and discovered a new mission: to care for the region's most vulnerable rescued animals. For several years, Skanda poured funds and energy into caring for rescued horses and developed educational programs to prevent horse suffering without funding.

Skanda continued to work with the CNY SPCA, the ASPCA, and other rescue organizations, and opened the farm to farm animals and endangered species.  Other calls came in, including one from a  closed trail farm with divorced owners to take  a clydesdale named Zeus and a paint named Orion. It was at this point that Skanda touched my heart and became part of my story.  My horse has died in the winter at 28 and triggered again  the grief of my husband dying. Each passing week the sadness grew with the grass.  I thought maybe some good could come  if I could  help one of those ponies.  Marion was able to search my heart to find the love I experienced on the back  of my grandfather's big horses  while he plowed. The "pony"  grew to be a  17 hands 2000 pound Zeus, who now enjoys his morning sliced carrots and apple, while listening to me debate  whether or not to put his rain sheet on  for his all day under-the-apple-tree  turnout.

Over the last four years, inspired by that initial experience with the ponies, Skanda has become home to horses, miniature donkeys, goats, chickens, ducks, and honeybees, and has developed a range of programs to educate the public about caring for animals, and to create networks of support in the community to support animals in need. Skanda now has a robust volunteer program, and welcomes visitors to the farm, where they can learn about animal care, responsible animal stewardship, and the incredible love, generosity, and innocence animals hold. A visit to Skanda can include meeting Esmeralda, the endangered Icelandic hen who lost her chicken family to disease but hatched and became mother to a family of ducklings.

One important preventive programs that Skanda created is Horses for the Holidays, where gently used or new equine supplies are collected in donation boxes at 23 locations in 8 counties in Central New York.  Skanda distributes the donations to horse owners who need assistance with theri horses in the challenging winter months. In its efforts to prevent horse suffering and reduce the number of horses going to auction, Skanda discovered many loving and well-intentioned horse owners who simply need help with their horses as they deal with unexpected changes in life circumstances such as illness, injury, divorce, and unemployment. For those who need help, the donation of heated water buckets or heavy winter blankets can make an enormous difference.

Horse owners who need assistance are encouraged to contact Skanda at the phone number listed below. Supplies are available now, and year-round. Anyone wanting to make an immediate difference in the life of a horse can donate supplies and can make a financial contribution, which gives Skanda the flexibility to purchase items specifically requested, such as a blanket in a specific size.

The Haven at Skanda is located on Mosley Road off Route 20 East of Cazenovia and has a beautiful apple tree lined drive and is entirely staffed by volunteers. Skanda always welcomes volunteers, and is especially seeking volunteers who are available to help out during the weekdays. To read more about The Haven at Skanda, to consider adopting a rescue pony or making a tax-deductible donation, visit their website at and call them at 315-815-5056.
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