By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
HORSE COUNTRY – The Bureau of Land Management routinely captures wild horses to manager their population and make room for cattle ranching and fracking on public lands. Horses that aren’t auctioned off often end up sent to slaughter for meat.
“These horses have been here for hundreds of years and they get rounded up and held in what’s called an HMA: a Herd Management Area,” explained Jennifer Glassman, owner of 3rd Coast Sanctuary in Thomas, an unincorporated community between Oxford and Metamora Townships also known as horse country. “They basically pay people to keep them confined. A lot of times they don’t have proper shelter or enough access to water or food. And we pay for that through our tax dollars.”
A decade ago, Glassman was a publicity executive for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Taking a break from work, she took a horse ride at Sunset Ranch in the foothills right underneath the Hollywood Sign. The horse she was riding happened to be a mustang. American mustangs are descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish in the 1500s. They are unprotected because they are considered a feral – not native – species.
“The guide started telling me and my friend about what’s happening with mustangs out in the wild, how they’re rounded up by helicopters, and I started doing more research and of course I fell in love with that horse that I was riding, so I bought him.” That horse’s name is Brodie.
As a photographer, she grew interest in mustangs, taking pictures and following various horse groups. She adopted more horses.
“One thing you got to know if you adopt a horse who still lives in the wild there’s a really good chance something happen.” Unfortunately, a few of them didn’t make it because of poor health. That was discouraging, but she thought to herself she needed to make it right by giving another horse a home. That’s when they adopted Blaze, an older mustang, from a dog shelter. “They thought she was dangerous and they were going to put her down. I said ‘wait a minute, I will take this horse.’”
Things continued from there. A year and a half ago, she and her husband decided to move out of California so she could have a farm of her own and rescue as many horses and animals as she can.
Born in Flint, raised in West Bloomfield until sixth grade, then Calumet in the UP through high school, this is a belated homecoming. The day after she graduated from Western Michigan University, she drove to LA and said “I’m never coming back to Michigan!”
Her husband, who is from LA, fell in love with the Great Lakes State when they came to visit her family. Her father now lives just a few miles down the road.
Their property has an old barn from the 1800s and a modest 14 acres. “When you come from LA, 14 acres seems like the biggest piece of property ever, but when you drive around Metamora, you see there’s hundreds of acres. So we’re maximizing as best we can. We do have room for more, but I need more volunteers because it’s a lot of work, but I love it.”
She set up 3rd Coast Sanctuary to raise funds to purchase horses from kill pens and transport them to safety, including their feed and continued care. It’s a fulltime job, of course. “It’s more than full time. It’s constant, because when you get into rescue, you want to save them all.”
They come from all over the country. Then Glassman rehabilitates and trains them. Sometimes that’s not enough, so she hires expert help to teach them to be “good citizens.”
Besides seven horses, they have rescued numerous cats and dogs, and most recently, a couple donkeys still in quarantine in Kansas. “When they come out of these kill pens, we don’t know their history. We don’t know if they’ve had vaccines, who they’ve interacted with, we don’t know anything, so they stay in quarantine for thirty days.” Once the thirty days are up, they will be shipped here. She’s still fundraising for their haul, which is more expensive than the auction.
To learn more, visit 3rdcoastsanctuary.org or @3rdcoastsanctuary on Instagram.
By James Hanlon