Donations are down, but Ormond Beach residents Susanna and Phil Raymond will keep S&P Stables open.
What's it like running an animal rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you ask the Raymonds, the answer mirrors that of many nonprofit organizations: It's not easy.
Susanna and Phil Raymond, of Ormond Beach, are the faces behind S&P Stables Inc. and Horse Rescue, and with 26 horses under their care, the coronavirus has impacted the number of incoming donations and viable adoptions. Running a horse rescue is always expensive, Susanna Raymond said. In one week, they spend an average of $440 for six rolls of hay. Add in vet fees and feed, and the cost increases.
But, the Raymonds are passionate about keeping S&P Stables open.
“It’s all about the horses," Susanna Raymond said. "None of this is about us. It is about them—giving them what they need.”
S&P stables has been a nonprofit organization since 2017, specializing in the rehabilitation of horses with the end goal of eventually adopting them out with a responsible rider. Though adoption fees have been waived at this time, the Raymonds don't just give away free horses. There has to be a bond between the horse and rider, Susanna Raymond explained. There are currently two horse adoptions underway.
“We want to make sure that there’s a success," she said. "Without success, we wind up having horses coming back and that’s not good for the horse, nor for the person.”
Even before COVID-19, the Raymonds were going through a hard time. Susanna Raymond lost three of the tips of her fingers on her left hand during a horse trailer accident last Father's Day.
Outside financial support for the rescue slowed down shortly afterward.
“It’s been a rough half year," Phil Raymond said.
However, they haven't given up. The Raymonds have put up their house and land for sale in Ormond Beach, and hope to relocate the rescue to a 29-acre parcel of land in Putnam County, where they will have the space to hold training sessions, riding lessons and camps.
“Our role is just to keep doing what we’re doing," Phil Raymond said. "We have to do the best we can.”
Why they do it
Susanna Raymond has been riding horses since she was 4 years old. Horses have always granted her emotional support, and she's been able to provide that to others who visit the stables.
One of the horses under her care is 14-year-old Princess Marie. Before coming to the Raymonds' rescue, she had been beaten with wood planks and mentally broken, Susanna Raymond said. She was advised to put her down, but Susanna Raymond didn't give up on her.
“It’s these things," she said. "Why do horses have to suffer? Why does any animal have to suffer?”
It's why the Ormond Beach residents are adamant on keeping the rescue open.
“It’s just becoming a very difficult time," Susanna Raymond said. "We’re not going to give up. This is what we do, but we’re just asking for a little bit of assistance through this difficult time too just like everybody else is.”