3rd Annual Horse Bingo Fundraiser Tickets On Sale Now

How it all started

Christy Zalak and her fiancé, Kenny Schwamb, started a little boarding stable in 1988.  Kenny suggested they also buy a few horses of their own for trail riding and lessons.  In 1989 they headed out to their first horse auction.  Many of the horses at the auction were old and/or injured.  After a life of service to humans, this is where they had ended up; being kicked and beaten to get up when they could barely stand, left to die if they couldn’t get on their feet, or headed on a terrifying and painful journey to the slaughter house to be sold for meat. Christy had never experienced anything like what she saw that day. Horrified and saddened she made a vow: her horses would never experience the terror and cruelty of a horse sale.  They came home with four horses that day.  Shortly after, Kenny passed away unexpectedly from Melanoma, leaving Christy on her own to run the farm.  Then the four horses from the auction became five, as one of the mares turned out to be pregnant. With the help and guidance of some wonderful friends and helpers and a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, Christy kept the farm running smoothly.

Over the years

Jennifer Zalak (Christy’s daughter) and Cynthia Steinmann (Christy’s niece) began helping Christy run the farm.  Over the past 29 years numerous boarders abandoned their unwanted horses, but we never had the heart to sell them; Christy was determined to keep her promise that no horse in her care would ever be shipped off to auction.  We didn’t realize it then, but this was to be the beginning of our sanctuary. The horses at the farm took people on trail rides, taught others how to ride, and were ridden in horse shows – all under the watchful eye of Christy to ensure the horses were always treated with kindness and respect.

As time passed and the horses grew older, little white hairs appeared, eye sockets deepened, a back was no longer straight, a misstep happened here and there – all signs of equine aging.  Retirement or a trip to the slaughter house are the only options for horses who can no longer carry a rider.  As our first horses aged, the realization that many senior horses are simply unwanted once they are no longer “useful” hit us hard.  At many barns, once a horse stops making money and starts costing money, they are viewed as nothing but a burden.

We didn’t see it that way. Our horses had given their all, as does every lesson horse, trail horse, show horse, hack horse, race horse, or brood mare, and they deserve to live out their final years being cared for and loved.

Becoming a Sanctuary

For decades we had been taking in older, unwanted horses  and caring for them – basically operating as a sanctuary without any public funding.  Our goal was to allow the 15 senior horses who had come to us over the years to live out their lives in peace and safety.

There was always another horse in need, another heartbreaking story of a sad soul who was no longer wanted – but without additional funding we were powerless to help.

In 2011 we officially became a non-profit organization and in 2014 obtained our 501c3 status so that we could accept donations and save more horses.  We are strictly a horse sanctuary.  When a horse arrives at Twin Oaks, he or she will never be leased or adopted out.  Each of our sanctuary horses has his/her own unique story which you can read in the biography and memorial pages. We wish they could talk to fill in the gaps, as we so often only know bits and pieces as to how they ended up starved, scarred, or head-shy when a human hand reaches out to give them a pat.

Running a horse sanctuary is a labor of self-sacrifice, dedication, and of tremendous love.  Christy is no longer able to do the grueling physical work involved in caring for the horses, so the twice daily, 365-day-a-year chores are split between Jen and Cynthia.  Holidays, hurricanes, snowstorms, illness – there are no days off. The horses must be tended to no matter what.  It is also a costly endeavor. Any horse must have regular farrier, dental, veterinary care and food, but just as we require more care and upkeep as we age, so do the horses. Most have special diets which include supplements and sometimes medication.  Because of these special needs, the cost of caring for elderly horses is higher than for younger horses.  In addition to the food and medical expenses, we also have constant, seemingly never-ending bills for building and repair work for the barn, sheds, enclosures, and fences.

We rely on the help and dedication of donors and volunteers to keep our sanctuary going, and every penny of the donations we receive goes toward the care of our horses to ensure their happiness, wellness, and safety.

We will continue to provide for the 20+ wonderful sanctuary horses currently in our care and would love to save even more, but we need your help to do so!

For more information you can visit our Facebook page, email us at [email protected], mail us at P.O. Box 284, Lake Grove, NY 11784, or call us at (631)874-4914.


Thank you for helping the horses!

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