OGR Featured in Vernonia’s Voice Article

Aug 19, 2023Featured News, Press Release

Vernonia's Voice
Jericho

No More Bad Days

On Golden Rescue, a sanctuary for equines and other large animals near Birkenfeld, is providing a caring and safe forever home for horses and goats in need.

 

Jericho was a hero. A working horse who participated in search and rescue operations in northern California. Trained to help find lost or injured hikers, campers, and backpackers, Jericho was a licensed first responder who had been written about in the local news for his exploits. Following an injury at the age of 11, Jericho was unable to continue the strenuous activities required for his search and rescue career and could no longer be ridden. He was sent to auction and eventually ended up in a kill pen, where someone recognized him from the media attention he had received. He bought Jericho and kept him for several years. That man later passed away from cancer, and Jericho was passed on to two young women who were developing an animal rescue program.

They had to flee a wildfire in California and moved to Oregon, where they placed Jericho, along with three other horses, in a boarding facility in Mulino. Jericho’s new home turned out to be a neglectful operation, where he was underfed and lived in muddy squalor with very small quarters and no pasture or grazing area. He became very thin and malnourished, and his chest atrophied. This was no life for a former hero. And then, in April of 2022, everything changed for Jericho.

Nestled in a picturesque valley near Birkenfeld, out beyond Fishhawk Lake, are 14 acres of horse heaven called On Golden Rescue. The pastures, barns, outbuildings, and ranch style house are the home of Larry Boxman and Gayle Rich-Boxman, along with 10 equines, three goats, and two golden retrievers. It’s an idyllic setting, especially for horses that are in need of proper shelter and a place to socialize, graze, play, and receive medical care, and grooming and farrier services.

Larry says he had always loved being outdoors as a kid. Even while growing up in urban Philadelphia, he always wanted to be out in nature, hiking, camping, and backpacking. He says during one of those overnight backpacking trips when he was around 12 and sleeping under the stars, he had a realization about his future. “That I was meant to help animals in need,” he says. “And that has always stuck with me.”

As Larry explains, life goes on, and instead of animals, he entered into a career saving people. He spent time in U.S. Air Force as a medic, then as a civilian Paramedic, and then as an administrator with Metro West Ambulance where he spent 27 years, reaching the position of Vice President of Operations. Gayle also has had a lifelong love of animals. “It was something we had in common when we first met 25 years ago,” says Larry.

Now retired, and with the resources necessary, the Boxmans are making Larry’s dream of saving animals a reality. “Everything up until now, I think, has prepared me for what I was meant to do,” says Larry.

 

With On Golden Rescue, the Boxmans have created a forever sanctuary and rehabilitation center for equines and goats that come from varied situations, some from neglected or abused backgrounds, others that are simply old and compromised and no longer “of value” to the owner, while others are homeless. “No more bad days” is their credo as their residents get to live the rest of their lives, their “golden years”, in lush surroundings with top-notch care and kindness.

By providing genuine love and compassion to each individual animal now in their care, On Golden Rescue has seen miracles happen as the animals have responded with improvements in health, behavior, and happier attitudes.

 

Jericho’s owners chose to turn him over to On Golden Rescue. Although he was afraid of loading into a horse trailer, the Boxmans and his owners were able to get him into the trailer – his owners repeating the phrase “It’s Ok Jericho, there will be no more bad days” while they struggled to load him for his transport to Birkenfeld. There he received care from On Golden Rescue’s horse behavior specialist, and Board of Directors member, Marianne Berg, who developed a nutritional regimen featuring high quality supplements. Through their partnership with Banks Veterinary Service and Charisse Tooze, owner of The Animal Bodyworks, Jericho received both the vet care he needed, along with massage and other natural healing techniques. He began to put on weight and muscle mass while enjoying the freedom of open pastures, and was growing happier and healthier.

 

As the owners of a new animal sanctuary, the Boxmans took several very important steps to ensure that their organization is trusted. Using the business acumen he developed at Metro West Ambulance, along with skills in networking and relationship building, Larry developed both a strategic plan and solid business plan for the organization to manage financial resources, and help fundraise for the project. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and have earned a Platinum badge, the highest rating, through GuideStar who evaluate and screen nonprofits.

GFAS Accredited

More importantly, on July 11 On Golden Rescue was honored to receive accreditation status as an animal sanctuary through Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). GFAS provides a rigorous certification process that ensures sanctuaries worldwide that care for horses, other farm animals, and wildlife, meet the highest standards of care, training for staff, professionalism, safety, disaster and evacuation plans, and financial management. After being accepted into the evaluation process and following 10 months of work, On Golden Rescue received their accreditation. “If we were going to set ourselves apart and be worthy of the funding we get, we want to make sure the public, because we are a public charity, knows that those funds are being used appropriately and the animals that are receiving the benefits of those funds are receiving the best care possible,” says Larry. “So, from the very beginning we worked to build our facility to meet the highest standards in the world. Now we’re having a huge impact on horses’ lives, and on people’s lives.”

On Golden Rescue does not adopt out the animals in their care, so really it is a sanctuary – a place for these animals to live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort. Much of the facility has been constructed to be off-grid with water catchment and storage, and solar panels providing power. Barn swallows are encouraged to build nests and provide natural insect control, and feral barn cats serve as rodent control. The manure the animals generate is chopped up or mulched and spread back into the pastures. With two employees, Ashley Cavett and Barbara Lebland, along with a number of volunteers, On Golden Rescue is able to meet the daily needs of the animals they have rescued. Larry serves as Executive Director of the organization, and Gayle serves on the Board of Directors, along with Marianne Berg, Hailey Palmore, and Angela Roach. With ten resident equines and three goats, On Golden Rescue currently has space for about five more horses and one more goat. “This has definitely been a team effort,” says Larry. “Hopefully we can continue to add to our team and offer more and more services.”

The Boxmans share the story of another of their horses, River. River was in a really bad situation and Columbia County was getting ready to seize him, when his owner let River free. River ended up on Highway 30 surrounded by law enforcement vehicles who were working to capture him. On Golden Rescue was contacted, and was able to safely load him and bring him to their facility. “River was incredibly head shy when he came here,” explains Gayle. “He was very skittish, he had a bunch of scars on his face, and he was just a wreck.” “He would just bolt if we got anywhere near him, so we just let him be,” adds Larry. “We just let him be a horse. Made sure he knew we weren’t going to hurt him or force him to do anything he didn’t want to do. Just let him learn to trust us. I would go out and just stand in the field and eventually he would get curious. It took a little while, and then he let me touch him, and he realized I was his friend.” Today River allows the staff to walk up him, pet him, and will even bend his head and allow someone he’s familiar with to put a fly mask on him. “He knows he is in a safe place,” says Larry.

River’s story leads us to another element of On Golden Rescue’s mission. In addition to their goals to rescue, rehabilitate, and provide a safe and healthy retirement for horses and other large animals, their strategic plan also includes a community education and outreach program. By collaborating with county and state agencies, veterinarians, and other nonprofit organizations, On Golden Rescue helps to identify situations where equines and other large animals may be in circumstances with owners where they need temporary support. Whether it be proper nutrition, farrier or veterinary care, fencing materials, or even providing end of life estate planning for someone’s animals, On Golden Rescue helps assess and deliver needed services with the intent of allowing the owners to keep their animals in place if the situation is deemed safe and adequate. By providing needed support the hope is to improve the health, safety, and well-being of the animals in their own home. “We are identifying people in need,” explains Larry. “They may have just gotten a little bit older, and they may not be able to physically keep up their fences or get feed out. Or maybe they’ve injured themselves or fallen on hard financial times. So we can provide temporary relief. We’ll deliver whatever they need. And we can also assist with relocation if they decide they can’t take care of the animals any more. If we can leave the animals where they are loved then we want to support the owners in taking care of their animals. This is a part of our program that we would really like to expand.”

On Golden Rescue is always looking for volunteers, whether they have experience with horses or not. “Maybe somebody has experience building things, and they could help with fence repairs or things like that,” says Larry. “Or people have experience with bookkeeping, or fundraising – which is a big thing we need help with. And then there are people out there that do want to get involved with the horses, who could help with mucking stalls and grooming. We need help with so many tasks, so getting some volunteers who want to help would be great.” On Golden Rescue has a website with a page where interested volunteers can submit their information. You can also make a donation to support their work.

“What we see when we take these traumatized horses before they arrive here – you see the darkness in their eyes. There’s really no life,” says Larry. “And then when they get here and they realize they can be a horse and have a good quality of life. And you watch the light come back into their eyes – it’s just amazing. The fact that we get to do this is fantastic. And we just want to do more of that.”

Today Jericho is living a happy and contented life. When he was transported to On Golden Rescue, he rode in a trailer with another horse, Gypsy, who he had never met before. Now Jericho and Gypsy are inseparable. This former search and rescue hero is no longer fearful or skittish. He is living in a calm and peaceful setting while receiving the best feed, grooming, and medical attention, with no more bad days.