Meet the herd
Bentley the pony is a punk with huge heart that knows when to be gentle! He’s sweet and obstinate, naughty and loving, a clown and empath. Bentley was rescued in 2017 from a kill auction in Texas.
Bravestar is a grulla mare born in 2007, She has beautiful dun coloring, a dorsal stripe down her back, and black lower legs, mane, and tail. Brought to founder Sharon Regan’s attention by a good friend, this former trail and cow horse found permanent refuge at the sanctuary.
Peanut is a grulla quarter horse mare born on June 12, 2007. She and two siblings were discarded by their breeder during economic downturn. When the sanctuary learned they were bound for auction and slaughter, we saved them all.
Peppy is a sorrel quarter horse born on May 13, 2007. Along with two of her siblings, Peanut and Stuey, she was discarded by her breeder. She was rescued when news reached the sanctuary that all three horses were bound for auction and slaughter.
Starberry is bold and bright, yet soft and curious. She’s smart as a whip and can be a little cheeky. A contrarian, she likes to say no when asked to do something, then changes her mind in a minute. She walks away, then peers coyly back at you, yearning for connection.
Stuey is a peaceful, gentle being. He is intelligent, incredibly adaptable, and possesses a genuine willingness to get along with both horses and humans. He loves a good roll in the mud, especially right after a bath!
Friend to All – is a beautiful, black & white, spotted saddle horse gelding born in 2000. He is patient, easy-going, cooperative, playful, loves attention, and has soft eyes that reflect his spirit.
Tara is a mustang mare, born in 2004, whose name (pronounced tar-ah) means “star” in Hindi and Sanskrit. She is simultaneously gentle and strong. She embodies the energy of the earth with her quiet confidence and grounded nature.
In Loving Memory
We remember all those who found sanctuary at last and left this earth with love in their hearts and food in their bellies.
Enveloped by the love of friends, his head cradled in Sharon’s arms, Seastar left us just after dawn on Sunday morning, April 16th. The sounds of gentle ocean surf, bird song, and Sharon’s loving words guided him on his way. Even at his advanced age (thirty-something), it took everyone by surprise. Last week he was happy and perky, calling out to Stuey as he was walked for exercise. Seastar wasn’t talkative, he only used his voice when he was feeling fine and dandy. We take solace in knowing he took pleasure in those last breezy, spring days.
Colic. The dreaded curse of equines, no matter what age or how healthy they are. It can strike suddenly and mercilessly, as it did with Seastar that morning. To move him in agony for a surgery he would not have survived was out of the question. Sharon’s final act of selfless love for him was to release him from the pain and set him free.
Before Seastar arrived at the sanctuary, he had endured a tragic life at the hands of cruel humans. He was desperately in need of peace, healing, and understanding. So Seastar came to live with Sharon, who named her sanctuary for him because he epitomized her mission: Lifetime refuge with the highest level of care for ponies and horses at risk of needless slaughter, who are old, injured, or abandoned with nowhere to go.
Sharon said it took Seastar all of five minutes to adjust to his new home. He knew a good thing when he saw it. He had a clean stall in the barn, which always opened into spacious pastures for grazing in the company of other horses with ocean views. He had access to fresh, clean water and excellent nutrition. For the first time in his life, a farrier cared for the thin soles on his front hooves, as well as bad angles that made his feet sore. A professional veterinarian handled his medical needs and he was gelded safely and properly.
Seastar had a tranquil, contemplative manner that belied his capacity for passion. As a gelding, he retained a high level of interest and response that the mares found irresistible. He was an insatiable flirt and almost broke a leg trying to get over a fence for hanky-panky. He also possessed an emotional depth that was expressed in his relationship with Papoose and Jane. He and these two elderly, neutered mares shared a great love at the sanctuary. When Papoose passed, Jane and Seastar carried the flame. When Jane passed, he stood alone for days quietly staring out to sea. Sharon chose a red horse chestnut tree to be planted with his ashes half way between Papoose’s bay laurel and Jane’s purple smoke tree.
Seastar loved being groomed and massaged. He often stopped grazing to fully enjoy it – and drew the line if Takoda and Bentley tried to push in on his time. He chose specific routes around the sanctuary that were easiest on his sore feet. He took everything slowly, including chewing the soft, warm mash Sharon prepared for him in his later years. She closed his stall during feedings to keep his nosy neighbors out, so he could finish meals at his own pace.
Seastar was a member of the Boy Band with Takoda and Bentley the Pony. Takoda played the part of a patient brother with the young pony, but met old Seastar in transcendent meditation. Perhaps Seastar learned to turn within to survive the years with his previous owner. Perhaps it was simply his nature. It made him a favorite of young children, for whom he was the unforgettable first connection with a horse. It was an experience Seastar always offered with trust and sweetness. Sharon considered him the sanctuary’s Ambassador to Little People.
Recently, the boys were merged into Kiva’s band, which includes all the mares. We thought Seastar’s proximity to the ladies might create a disturbance, but the fresh, green forage in the pasture – known as “Big Heaven” – was intoxicating and held herd dynamics in balance. Seastar would nonchalantly graze his way toward the mares in an effort to conceal his intentions. All the while, Kiva was slowly moving closer to monitor the situation. If Seastar got too close, Kiva gently, but firmly placed himself between him and the mare. It was casual, respectful, hilarious to watch, and all that was needed. Seastar was a lover not a fighter.
He has walked on from this place into memory, this creature of heart and spirit.
He has gone to wind, a heart unbound.
Call out his name. Cry proud tears, for you are his legacy.
He is worthy of mourning, worthy of celebration of all you’ve become in each other.
Hold steady that primal moment in half-light just before the sun goes to rest;
When gray horses pause in reflection of all that matters most.
In that slow fade he will return;
the dear scent of his mane carrying you up on a silver-white breeze.
-Anna Blake, Horse Prayers
Papoose crossed the Rainbow Bridge on January 20, 2020 She was 34 and Seastar Sanctuary had Papoose for 30 years. On about 4pm on 1/20 our vet for almost 20 years, Matt Durham of Steinbeck Equine Clinic in Salinas and his wife Tiffany (vet tech) came to the barn even though they were on vacation to help Papoose be free. The picture below was the sky over the barn and pasture about 1/2 hour after which the sky was totally gray before that. She lit up the sky over the whole area with a lavender-pink and golden color, it was just magnificent and as beautiful as she is. Our heart is sadden and heavy but we know she is peaceful. She is a big part of my soul and purpose for what we do.
Papoose was born a Sorrel Paint Quarter Horse mare in 1986 and came to live with the founder, Sharon Regan, of Sea Star Horse Sanctuary (SSHS) at age 4. She was smart and strong-willed, qualities in a herd that would one day elevate her to being the lead mare. In the beginning she was quite the handful and often refused to be caught! Over time we come to realize the best horses (and people) usually are a handful at one time of another. In 1989 Sharon met Ray Berta at a Buck Brannaman clinic trying to address this very issue. They say if you ask one hundred horsemen you’ll get one hundred answers. Maybe that’s why horses bring us so many lessons. Yes, they are friends and companions, but if we are lucky, they are also teachers and mentors, helping us to more fully appreciate their qualities of sentience and intelligence as individuals with a deep herd animal instinct. Papoose had grown as a solid citizen, taking her owner over many trails, and worked many years as a cow horse. She birthed the next generation of a beloved horse in our herd, the fantastic Kiva.
To honor Papoose, consider a donation in her name.
On May 10, 2022, our precious Jane passed. Twenty-seven of her 35 years were spent with us. The cause of death was essentially being a horse. The anatomical design of the equine digestive system makes them susceptible to colic. She was surrounded by family and old friends who have loved and cared for her for decades. Her passage was compassionate and dignified, a fitting end to her rich and happy life at the sanctuary.
Jane was an elegant, luminescent, red sorrel mare with a mane that shone like gold in the sunlight. She had sparkling, wide-set eyes that revealed the sweetness in her strong personality.
Sharon welcomed her to the sanctuary as a surrogate mother for Kiva, who was being weaned from his mother, Papoose. Jane’s strong maternal nature was a defining attribute. Nurturing this little colt was exactly what she loved to do. She fit right in with Papoose, the lead mare, an equine force of nature. Together they would age into a formidable pair of sassy “golden girls”.
It did not take long for Jane to get things the way she wanted them. There were no demands made of her beyond regular grooming, veterinary, dental, and farrier care. She had opportunities to indulge her longing to nurture: Early on with Kiva; later as a friend urgently in need when Starberry arrived. She roamed the ranch freely, satisfying her insistence upon independence, as well as her preference for solitude in later years. When she wanted something, she poked her head in the kitchen door. Pampering, she loved it, and received plenty of it, always first to receive the benefits of holistic healing. Icing on the cake, she had a passionate love with Seastar. Neither their age nor the fact that both were neutered could cool the flame.
The wisdom and sensitivity of Sharon and the veterinary team gave all the horses time to part with Jane. It is profoundly important for these sentient, bonded beings to be able to process the death of a herd member. One by one, they came to stand over her body. Many sniffed intensely, especially at her head and hind end. Some inhaled, then snapped up their heads to squeal or neigh. These were not their usual sounds, they were tinged with concern and sadness. They pawed, nipped, and nudged to try and make her stand up. Bentley, the youngest, was most persistent, even attempting to nurse at her udder to provoke a reaction. Like Starberry, he took deep, rapid breaths to snort air into her nostrils. Without this ritual, the panic of separation anxiety would have set in, but calm comes from understanding. It concluded when they knew that Jane was no longer there and they were able to walk away.
That evening, Sharon wrapped her arms around Starberry, who was closest to Jane. They stood together in silence looking out to sea. A breathtaking sunset unfolded in the reds and golds of Jane’s sorrel beauty, symbolic of the release of her vibrant spirit. We know she is eternally part of these coastal fields and mountains. We celebrate her happy life here and invite her to be with us in a new way. In sanctuary tradition, we will add her ashes to the garden soil. There is no better way to honor the essence of Jane’s beautiful spirit than by planting a new tree for her to nurture.
“Bold and timid.
Turbulent and still.
Deliberate and spontaneous.
Stoic and emotional.
Powerful and frail.
Physical and spiritual.
Eternal and painfully mortal.”
— Anna Blake, Horse Prayers