Meet the herd



Starberry, aka Strawberry, a Polish Arabian, was born in 1998 and lived in the fields near Pfeiffer Beach with her sister, Caroline, for 17 years. In August of 2020, the beloved Big Sur mares fell victim to an atrocious act of animal cruelty …


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.


Kiva was born June 10, 1995 from Papoose and boy does he love her! Kiva is definitely the alpha male of the main herd.


Seastar is Sorrel Quarter horse who was likely born around 1998 based a veterinarian checking his teeth.


Stuey was born May 22, 2006 and registered as a Sorrel Paint Quarter Horse with Dunn markings. He was rescued with his sisters, Bravestar, Peppy and Peanut.


Takoda means “friend to all” and he honestly is! This black and white Tobiano gelding was born in 2000, loves attention and has a playful heart.


Peanut was born June 12, 2007 and registered as a Grulla mare. She has been in the middle of the herd hierarchy but she has recently taken more of a leadership role.


This beautiful Dunn is a registered Sorrel Quarter Horse. Born on May 13, 2007 with twisted hind quarters and placed into support braces to help them straighten out.


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.

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.

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