How it began...
When Lori Rosser Yonts came to Georgia in 2000, she intended to use her farm to create a haven for retiring horses, a safe place to land after serving their owners faithfully into their golden years. Lori was born and raised in western Canada, and always had a love of animals, and had worked an ASPCA inspector for over 10 years. She was well aware of the plight our equine companions face, especially in the economically depressed and geographically challenged areas of northern Georgia, Tennesee and Alabama. Retirement facilities were few and far between, so filling that need was important to her. After settling in, it quickly became a necessity to not only retire horses...but to rescue and rehabilitate them as well, and with that vital need in mind she took inspiration from her own cherished horse, Sunkissed Angel, and Sunkissed Acres became a 501c3 non-profit rescue and retirement program in 2004.
Our mission is a simple but important one, Sunkissed Acres exists to provide the rescue and rehabilitation of horses, to offer compassionate sanctuary, and for those who are suffering beyond the hope of recovery, a humane end to their pain surrounded by loving care.
The facilities at Sunkissed Acres include two barns with a total of 24 stalls, 60 acres of land, numerous paddocks and run-in shelters. The facility is designed and maintained to provide safety and to enhance the health and well being of the horses. Our rescue and facility are verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and we are past, and a current 2017 ASPCA grant recipient.
Since the start of our rescue mission, hundreds of horses have come to the farm, many who have endured unspeakable cruelty and neglect. They come to us unable to stand, unable to trust, and they are given careful attention and veterinary care, and a soft place to land. Others are victims of the economy, and others the victims from loss of interest. Many others are horses that are loved and cared for, but their owners have fallen on hard times, so they will remain in their homes with Sunkissed Acres providing grain, hay and any veterinary care needed until the owner is back on their feet.
No matter how they come to us, they will know kindness, respect, and care. They will be loved.
Throughout the year more than 30 horses will call Sunkissed Acres home on any given day. Their reasons for coming here are different, but most will remain here for the rest of their days due to limitations in their abilities or the specialized care they need. This means that very few will be adoptable, unless a very specialized home can be found. The cost for caring for a senior horse with special needs can be an average of $3500-$6000+ per year, just for their basic health needs, so few homes are able to support them.
When a horse becomes eligible for adoption or foster placement, we work to find the best possible placement. Many factors are considered including age, experience, income, stabling, transportation and more. Our goal is to match the horse with the home best able to meet their needs, in the least stressful way possible for the recovering horse. When a horse reaches a point where it would be beneficial for them to begin their new life in a permanent home, we will make a listing on our very active Facebook page so we can best use the power of social networking to find the best possible outcome. Adoption fees vary, and preference is given to past adopters and established programs that partner horses and humans together for learning, and physical and mental wellness.
Helping Foster Children with Special Needs
Horses and children are a combination that can be magical and miraculous. Our logo holds special meaning to us because it so perfectly illustrates that bond, and it's something we have experienced every day Since 2006. For 11 years now Sunkissed Acres has been a place of safety for 11 children long term, and more than 40 others who needed a temporary place to call home. Lori works closely with the state of GA and with counties throughout the state to be a loving foster home for children in need, most who will have a physical, psychological or intellectual special need. Not only are they given shelter, and the stability of a loving home, they learn vital life skills as they connect with the horses, dogs, cats, chickens and ducks in residence. As they help with basic chores around the farm, they learn the importance and responsibility of caring for something and someone. But most of all, they learn empathy and respect through their interactions with the horses, and the way the horses respond to their honesty, their fears, their hopes and their dreams.
The children will eventually move on, but Lori remains a constant source of guidance and safety for them throughout their lives, and Sunkissed Acres always remains a place of refuge for them...a home. You can learn more about our work in equine assisted learning by clicking here
Sunkissed Acres has established many programs that benefit horses during the stages of recovery and rehabilitation, and many go on to have careers in therapeutic settings or as beloved companions with new owners. Two programs in particular, Day Lily Horse Farm in GA and The Center for Equine Assisted Wellness in NY have adopted several horses from Sunkissed Acres for their programs with youth and those with special needs. Day Lily Horse Farm rehabilitates and retrains the horses that have promise to go on to homes as riding companions, and uses others that are in sound physical and emotional health, but are difficult to place due to age or expense in upkeep, in their programs for youth. The Center for Equine Assisted Wellness pairs the horses that have physical or emotional health needs with individuals children and adults who have special needs of their own.
But the most important work that happens remains right on the farm, with the children of GA who need a place to call home.