Bay Area Proud

Los Gatos Woman Quietly Builds One of the Nation's Largest Horse Sanctuaries

When Alicia Goetz learned the fate of tens of thousands of unwanted horses each year in the U.S., she set about to save the ones she could

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Alicia Goetz is the founder of Freedom Reigns Equine Sanctuary in San Benito County.

Just off Highway 101 in San Benito County, behind the large gate with the Freedom Reigns name, is where you will find a lottery winner.

Well, more like 500 of them. And the woman who gave them their prize.

"I have 493 right now," Alicia Goetz said. "Another 10 are coming."

Freedom Reigns houses 500 rescued horses on a 4,000-acre ranch.

On this 4,000 acre property over the past six years, Goetz has quietly been building one of, if not the, largest horse sanctuary in the country. Not by design, though.

"It definitely wasn't my plan," Goetz said.

Goetz said, while always an animal lover, she didn't know much about horses until one of her daughters began riding. It wasn't long before Goetz learned about the tens of thousands of unwanted horses in the United States that are purchased, then shipped out of the country for slaughter.

"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, this is what I have to do,'" Goetz said. "I have to get involved in this and try to rescue some."

Goetz purchased the land for Freedom Reigns in 2014.

Goetz began by funding the efforts of those rescuing horses and finding new homes for them. Then, toward the end of one rescue effort, Goetz decided to get more involved.

"It got down to the last six and I think I said, 'Okay I'll take them,' and I was like, 'Okay what did I just do?'" she said. 

What Goetz did was begin an amazing effort.

Wild horses, ranch horses, jumping horses; just about any kind of horse one can find has found a home at Freedom Reigns.

"What do they have in common?" Goetz said. "Someone didn't want them."

Even more remarkable is that Goetz funds the entire operation on her own. She asks for no donations.

"I feel so fortunate and, so, this was what was supposed to happen and I am a firm believer in that," she said. "It was what I was meant to do."

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