Mud, silt and water damage to the Sandia Creek Ranch property in Fallbrook is shown in this photo. Sandia Creek rescues and re-homes racing thoroughbreds that can no longer race, owing to either injury, age or loss of funding. Photo courtesy David Haddad

College dean, teacher and avid horseman Dr. David Haddad volunteers his time and expertise for a cause close to his heart. The Idyllwild resident founded a nonprofit, the Sandia Creek Ranch Auxiliary Foundation, in 2014 to help facilitate creating a second life for race horses retired by injury, age or loss of funding.

Dr. David Haddad, avid horseman and educator, who founded a thoroughbred horse rescue foundation. Photo courtesy David Haddad

Sandia Creek Ranch, in Fallbrook, is a multi-purpose ranch that, in one element of its mission, takes in former race horses and uses its network to place them in second life home ranches and horse properties, through sale and/or lease.

When not riding his favorite horse Sonny in disciplines including dressage, jumping, cross country and hunting, Haddad commutes to his career as teacher and dean of the California International University in Los Angeles. Lately, his commute has been complicated by road closures of highways 74 and 243 caused by the Valentine’s Day storm.

The same storm has damaged Sandia Creek Ranch infrastructure, including feed barns, corrals, arenas and trails, further complicating Sandia’s job of caring for and placing these stout-hearted horses. More than $1,000 worth of hay was damaged by strong winds driving rain horizontally into feed barns. Other damage includes half a foot of mud and silt throughout the ranch.

Sandia also raises and boards horses on its 30 acres. At present, staff are caring for 74 horses and have borrowed another 5 adjoining acres from a sympathetic property owner to help accommodate their charges. According to Haddad, it is ideal to allocate an acre per horse. Therefore, with damage to its facilities, Sandia staff are stretched past capacity.

Haddad chartered his foundation in order to provide horse lovers a tax deduction for gifts to support Sandia Ranch and its mission. Staff at the ranch have not had the time or expertise to form a ranch nonprofit, hence Haddad’s decision to provide a donor enticement — a tax deduction — through his foundation.

Anyone interested in supporting Sandia’s mission can contribute through Haddad’s foundation at www.scraf.org. 

For information about Sandia Creek ranch itself — buying or leasing thoroughbreds, horse boarding and riding at Sandia — visit www.sandiacreek.com.

As a sidebar of interest to readers, consider CARMA, the California Management Account, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2007 to raise money for retired racehorses. 

CARMA is responsible for hosting fundraising events, educating owners and trainers on thoroughbred retirement, and raising awareness and working to unify the racing industry in support of its equine athletes. 

CARMA facilitates the transition of racehorses off the track through its placement program to facilities such as Sandia Creek Ranch. CARMA worked with the California Horse Racing Board to adopt a rule change allowing for a 0.03-percent deduction from race purses to help fund equine retirement. 

Since 2008, CARMA has granted more than $4 million to organizations such as Sandia Creek that retire, retrain and re-home thoroughbreds who have raced at partnering tracks in California.

At Sandia, retired race horses that can no longer race are trained in other disciplines, such as dressage, cross country, jumping and hunting, depending on the nature and extent of their injury. 

For Haddad, living in Idyllwild, with its peace and tranquility, and riding at Sandia, Garner Valley and other pristine places, are the perfect restorative tonics for an otherwise pressure-driven career. 

Spending time in the company of horses, appreciating their intelligence, their hearts, their strength, skills and devotion, is an ongoing and rich learning process for a dedicated educator.

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