Arlington horse-rescue group offers calendar fundraiser

  • Thu Nov 24th, 2011 9:15pm
  • News

By Kristi O’Harran Herald Columnist

Gretchen Salstrom, founder and executive director of People Helping Horses in Arlington, said the organization is selling calendars to support rescued horses in their care.

“Each of the 39 horses that call People Helping Horses home has lived through what I can’t even begin to understand,” Salstrom said. “I sometimes try and imagine what it would be like to be confined to a tiny pen for life, with no opportunity to run in, or even see, the outdoors. To be abandoned in a muddy field, with nothing but garbage to eat.”

She said she can’t fully come to terms with the dark backgrounds the PHH horses came from, but she can wrap her mind and heart around the astounding stories of recovery that live in the barns.

PHH receives no government funding. As winter weather settles over the Northwest, Salstrom said she worries about hay prices skyrocketing.

“Winter means that horses will no longer be able to graze in the pastures, putting our cost to feed the horses beyond what we can cover with current gifts. The reality of the season is that stables and equipment will need costly repairs; veterinary bills will mount, as illnesses and injuries always increase in the winter, and horses simply require more of everything as the weather cools.”

Even if it was possible to somehow manage all expenses for the horses in their care, they will not be able to take in any new horses.

“I know that for every horse we rescue, there are several others out there suffering, horses we could be saving if we had the funds.”

They created a 2012 calendar with photographs by equine photographer and board member John Martinotti. To purchase the calendar, call 360-435-9393 or email

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Magical Honeysuckle House sounds like a sweet place to visit. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 1214 Highway 530 NE, Darrington.

Shop for gifts and Christmas decorations, get a warm drink and goodies. Vickie Rankin said it’s her annual open house and she plans the date carefully.

“You just may want to make a day of it and pick up your Forest Service Christmas Tree permit while you are there and embark on the ‘Great Christmas Tree Adventure’. There is nothing like hunting for that special tree out in the woods on a crisp November day.”

• • •

Mixing up dates in Darrington can lead to creativity.

About five years ago, a band called Bruce Harvey and The Sandfleas from Orcas Island headed up to play during a Surf and Turf festival at the rodeo grounds in Darrington.

They arrived one morning, planning to camp that night to get a good night’s sleep before the stage gig at 2 p.m. the next day.

All around the campground, they could hear banjos and mandolins, and folks singing in harmony.

Some guy was even blowing off explosives, said Bruce Harvey.

It was the weirdest Surf Music Festival they had ever seen or heard.

The next morning, they realized they got their dates wrong. They were mistakenly at the Darrington Bluegrass Festival. Before long, The Sandfleas borrowed instruments, and wound up hanging out with a guy offering moonshine.

They played surf tunes on acoustic instruments.

They incorporated memories and produced “Overhead at Darrington” with Harvey, Andrew Moore, Kevin Dickey, Al Bentley and Dan Duggin from Mt. Vernon.

For more information, go to

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,