Redwings Horse Sanctuary began in May 1991 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in Carmel, California, with a mission to end the abuse, neglect, and slaughter of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and burros through rescue and foster care. In its first year, Redwings rescued 15 equines from abusive or life-threatening situations. Redwings staff then rehabilitated the equines and matched them with carefully-screened adoptive homes.
Redwing's first rescue was a beautiful Thoroughbred gelding named Island Fighter. Redwings received a call from Fresno County to alert us about a horse in an auction pen with a fractured shoulder. Redwings originally planned to purchase the horse to end his suffering humanely, but the horse had spirit. The veterinarian was called in to assess the severity of the horse's injury. Island Fighter was in luck. The vet determined that with a long rest and rehabilitation period, the young horse would fully recover. The staff at Redwings renamed the horse "Sam" after Congressman Sam Farr, who has been an enormous supporter of Redwings.
Redwings also addressed educational, financial, and other factors behind equine neglect. The organization initiated several programs, including an equine education program for new owners and an equine medical assistance program for low-income owners.
In the fall of 1992, Redwings broadened its scope to include a permanent sanctuary for those equines who could not be adopted, ensuring them a secure and life-long home at the sanctuary. From 1992 to 2000, Redwings leased a beautiful ranch overlooking the ocean off Highway 1, in Carmel.
In 2000 Redwings moved to a 167-acre ranch in southern Monterey County, California. The entire Redwings family of 90 equines, staff members, and some volunteers completed the transition to the new sanctuary in March 2002.
In March of 2021, Redwings completed construction on our new and permanent home in Paso Robles. It took a month to move all the horses, office, equipment, and supplies to the new sanctuary. In May of 2021, we opened the sanctuary on Union Road in Paso Robles. This property is owned by Redwings and is a permanent home, so we will never have to worry about moving the horses again.
The new sanctuary is located in the heart of the Paso Robles Wine Country on 141 beautiful acres. The property was designed specifically to meet the needs of our rescue horses. We have everything from the smallest miniature horse to the largest draft horse. Our herd of burros and our herd of Mustangs from the Pryor Mountains of Montana are very popular with guests, and our draft herd, rescued from the Premarin auctions in Canada, stand regally at the top of their hill and keep a watchful eye over the ranch.
Redwings has an adoption program to ensure that all our horses go to approved and loving homes. Potential homes must fill out an adoption application and have a home inspection before being approved to adopt a Redwings horse. During the first year of adoption, Redwings staff keep a close eye on the adopted horse and ensure they are happy, healthy, and a good fit for the new family. Those horses who are not adoptable due to age, illness, or injury have a permanent home at the sanctuary.
In 2014 Redwings was accredited by CARMA (California Race Management Account) and is an approved aftercare partner for Thoroughbreds that raced in California. In 2015 Redwings was accredited by TAA (Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance), a national organization, as an approved aftercare facility for retired racehorses. On September 30, 2016, Redwings received full accreditation from GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries), an international organization that certifies animal sanctuaries through verification and accreditation.