Adopt a Horse, Save Another Horse

Tuesday April 02, 2024

Mary Martin (far right) with Paisely, her team and two minis, Holly and Callie

WEST NEWBURY – Marvel is one of many success stories at the New England Equine Rescue North (NEER).
An aggressive Haflinger, Marvel was thought to be a lost cause. Bought at an auction by a well-meaning but inexperienced owner, the horse developed dangerous habits, threatening to kick any humans or animals that came near him.
“I was told he should be euthanized. I probably should have euthanized him.” said Mary Martin, president and founder of NEER North. But thanks to the hard work of Laura Ciarletta, Mary and others at the rescue farm, Marvel was given a second, third and many more chances.
Today, the gelding has a job on a therapy farm. He also has his own Facebook page where his new caregiver posts photos of Marvel with children and other animals.
NEER North is a non-profit equine rescue registered in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since 2008, it has been helping horses and owners in crisis. A safe haven, NEER North rehabilitates these animals for adoption into new homes.
Since the horse and donkey rescue was formed, Mary Martin has rescued and cared for dozens of animals each year on the 13-acre farm at 52 Ash Rd. This year she has more than tripled that number, caring for the large animals at three locations along the North Shore, plus others in foster care and adoption.
A total of 40 horses, ponies and donkeys are currently housed with NEER North, including 17 on site, plus three mules and three donkeys. There is also a sheep named Paisley, all of which strain the operation’s capacity.
“Adopting a horse saves two: the horse you take home and the one you make room for,” the web site says.
Like Marvel, each animal has a story. Standing in front of a gallery of photos of horses inside the doors of the barn/office, Mary and her adoption matchmaker Andrea Moore-Dickison love to recite stories about each animal in their care.
Other team members who help make NEER the success it is are Hillary Lind and Nerissa Wallen.
Mary’s phone rings continuously. In the last year, she has had 140 requests to take in unwanted animals from owners throughout New England who are unable to care for their horses and donkeys.
The uptick in requests, she believes, is caused by inexperienced people wanting to own a horse. She has also had a higher return rate, again because it takes hard work and money to own a horse.
A great opportunity to learn about NEER and enjoy the fun and excitement of the rescue farm is at its annual Open House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 9. The open house raises money and introduces people to the farm. The event includes barn tours, games, food trucks, a beer tent and the chance to visit with beautiful horses.
NEER North is affiliated and recognized by some of the most important organizations, including Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, EQUUS Foundation, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Guidestar Platinum, Massachusetts Equine Welfare Council, Equine Welfare Alliance
Equine Welfare Society, Animal Welfare Institute Americans Against Horse Slaughter, Animal Law Coalition and the American Horse Defense Coalition.
The non-profit NEER North has several ways to help the effort. Supporters can make a tax-deductible donation, contribute to the Feed Fund or sponsor a horse, stall or corral. To learn more, visit

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