United Pegasus to open new Tehachapi facility
November 11, 2023
United Pegasus Foundation has been operating in Tehachapi since 1998. The organization was founded in 1994 by Helen Meredith, an avid horsewoman, with the mission to save retired racehorses from being sold for slaughter and to adopt out as many as possible.
The original location of United Pegasus was Helen's backyard but moved to Mira Loma in 1995. In 1998 they purchased 20 acres in Cummings Valley and 15 acres in Hemet, California. Both were consolidated into the Tehachapi facility from 2002 to 2016 when a facility in San Jacinto, California was added to accommodate the 43 animals from the California Equine Retirement Foundation (CERF).
In 2020, United Pegasus Foundation purchased the old equestrian center on Woodford Tehachapi Road with room for 200 horses and the Cummings Valley facility was sold. The new 40-acre property will be under construction for the next few years and will be the home for their current 139 rescued horses. As with their prior property in Cummings Valley, when completed, the new facility is planned be open to the public.
In 1996, Meredith also began rescuing the Premarin horses from Canada. The draft horse mares were used for the production of estrogen. The byproduct of the popularity of this drug production was thousands of unwanted babies as well as mistreated mares that were hooked up to urine machines during the period of their pregnancy. Thousands of mares and foals ended up being sent to slaughter in Canada and Japan before the practice ceased. Twenty-eight of these horses ended up in Tehachapi.
Helen Meredith, the driving force behind United Pegasus Foundation, was born in England and grew up with horses. She competed as a runner, excelling in the 100 and 200 meter and long jump. She met her husband Derek Meredith, a jockey, while exercising horses. She left home at the age of 16 and moved to France where she lived for 17 years. She helped to train horses and had some success as an amateur jockey. In 1989 she and her husband moved to Southern California. She purchased her own racehorses and began to race them. She won the 1993 Santa Anita Breeders' Cup Sprint on her 7-year-old horse, Cardmania. Helen and Carmania also rode in the 1996 Pasadena Rose Parade. Helen said that during her career she has ridden some of the best race horses in the world. With that behind her, Helen retired from riding in 1998 to focus on rescuing horses.
United Pegasus Foundation requires about $700,000 a year to operate. According to Helen, about 60 percent of racehorses are done by the age of 4 years. They are trained to be speed oriented and break down at a younger age. In the United States they are trained to run in a circle while in Europe, horses are trained to run straight and in varied directions. When horses retire in the U.S., they must be retrained before they can be adopted out. New horses at Pegasus are turned out for a while to give them time to calm down before retraining. It costs about $500 a month to keep a horse.
United Pegasus is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. You can check out their website for ways to assist with the rescue of these retired equine athletes: http://www.UnitedPegasus.org/.