I’m local to Monmouth County, New Jersey (for the past decade anyway) and it’s absolutely beautiful. We are smack dab in the middle of NJ Horse Country. Some of you may be surprised by that- New Jersey and horses? Absolutely! The United States Equestrian Team is 50 miles from here. Our state has the highest number of horses per square mile, and wait for it…..our state animal is the horse! I could bore you all day with statistics, but I won't. You're welcome.
We also have a rather large number of celebrities in the area, notably Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and John Stewart call our area home. You may have heard that in 2018 John and Tracey are opening a 45-acre animal sanctuary and sustainable farm in Colts Neck, not 15 minutes down the road from me. For those of you who don’t know, Tracey Stewart is a former veterinary technician and both she and her husband have been animal advocates for many years.
The Stewart Family has big plans for their 45-acre farm, approved unanimously on January 10, 2017 by the Colts Neck Township Planning Board. While they do live on a small farm in Middletown, this Colts Neck farm will be solely dedicated to having 15 acres of sustainable agriculture as a food source and will be home to animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goat, horses, and chickens.
This is going to be a wonderful venture and I'm very excited it's local. A number of friends and animal lovers are hoping to volunteer their time at this facility and there is strong local support. A wonderful endeavor and something of which they can be truly proud. This is a huge project but unsurprising as the Stewarts do a lot for animals. In 2016, Tracey adopted Lily (a 35 year old mare) from the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania. Lily was emaciated and covered in paint. During her short stay with the Stewarts, she gained approximately 150 pounds and was enjoying daily massage and hugs. Sadly, a mere month after arriving she broke a bone in her neck and had to be euthanized. She was lucky to leave the world with such care and devotion rather than being slaughtered. All horses at auction should be so lucky.
The most recent example of giving by the Stewarts occurred at Sunnyside Equestrian Center in Lincroft, NJ. The facility is part of the Monmouth County Parks System and hosts the Special People United to Ride (SPUR) program, which helps people with disabilities through horsemanship. It's a wonderful program and we donate our massage expertise there monthly.
SPUR had welcomed on trial a beautiful paint mare. Her previous barn was making room for more horses and she was for sale through no fault of her own. While she was at Sunnyside she received the best treatments: chiropractor, acupuncture, and massage sessions. Unfortunately, this mare did not make any progress and was afterward diagnosed by a veterinarian with severe spinal calcification. Her career as a therapy horse was not going to take off. So what to do?
John and Tracey Stewart knew the pony in question well- she came from the nearby barn where both their daughter and my partner, Danelle ride. The Stewarts heard about her health and arranged for her to be trailered to a sanctuary in sunny Florida, where she is enjoying her retirement. I’m told she is frolicking happily in her paddock.
The Stewart Family’s sanctuary plans will obviously have a large impact and I applaud their efforts. But this should be a learning lesson. Every day Tracey Stewart and her family are helping animals, and most of the time you won’t hear about it. We should, ALL OF US, be more like them whether it is helping animals, the environment, or people. Let's step outside of ourselves and do something for others.
**Disclaimer: I do not personally know John or Tracey Stewart and receive nothing from this post.
Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT), Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. The best thing that she can imagine is having a career improving the quality of life for horses and dogs alike. She and her business partner, Danelle Stukas, are the co-owners of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC based in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Tracey Stewart is the author of the bestselling "Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better.”