Through her Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary, Erin Kelley Groth is doing what she can to repay horses for what they have given her.
“Horses saved my life in many ways,” Kelley Groth said. “My rescuing them is me paying them back for saving my life. That’s why I do this.”
Spending time at a riding stable near Milwaukee when she was young, Kelley Groth credits the horses with helping her cope with a difficult home life.
“I kind of grew up there (at the stable),” Kelley Groth said. “It was my second home.”
Horses were also part of her adult life as a married mother with two sons. Even as her mother’s health was failing at the same time as her marriage, Kelley Groth’s attention was on helping horses. Moving to Florida to be near her mother, Kelley Groth bought acreage in Georgia for a horse sanctuary.
“I wanted to do something rewarding,” Kelley Groth said.
However, when her mother passed away, Kelley Groth no longer needed the land in Georgia. Since her second husband’s hometown was Elkhart Lake, Kelley Groth looked for land for a horse rescue in that area.
After acquiring a small farm in the Elkhart Lake area, Kelley Groth began the process for making the rescue official. The sanctuary became an approved nonprofit in 2009.
One of the first horses to take up residence at the sanctuary confirmed Kelley Groth’s mission to help neglected horses was the right one for her.
“When they walked her up, chills ran through my body,” Kelley Groth said. “I knew this was what I was meant to do.”
Promoting itself as “a safe haven for horses in need,” the rescue accepts horses for rehabilitation with the goal of finding them new homes. Kelley Groth estimates the rescue has rehomed around 160 horses since its opening.
The sanctuary used to accept “harder case” horses, but since the rescue has limited resources it is unable to add to the number of permanent residents living at the farm.
Trigger, a palomino Shetland pony, is one of the permanent residents at AGES. He was also one of the first residents. He has become the guardian angel of the blind, unadoptable residents.
To help cover the costs of the horses’ care, AGES has held an annual fundraiser since 2009. The first year of the Hope for Hooves event, Kelley Groth estimates 100 people attended the fundraiser; last year around 600 visitors took in the event.
This year, the fundraiser will be Saturday, Aug. 25, at the stable at W4985 County Highway FF, Elkhart Lake.
To make the fundraiser a success, organizers are looking for more sponsors and contributions of themed baskets, arts and crafts, and cash. Donations received by Aug. 10 will be listed in the event program, signs at the event and on the organization’s website.
Visitors to the fundraiser can enjoy pony rides, a silent auction, a tack sale, animal exhibitors, art and craft vendors, kids’ activity center and a food tent. There also will be a side-saddle demonstration by Anne Ullius.