Epona's Path was founded and is run by Curt and Rita Reik. Curt is a retired firefighter and Vietnam veteran and Rita is a physician. They have been married almost 40 years, and have shared a love of animals and charitable causes throughout their lives together. Over the years, Curt and Rita have rescued numerous dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, pigs and horses. They routinely contribute to children's hospitals, the Salvation Army, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and various Equine rescue/sanctuaries. They are strong proponents of laws prohibiting animal or human cruelty in any form. They believe in education as a primary means of preventing cruelty to animals and humans.
Epona's Path informally began its horse rescue efforts in the summer of 2009 as a private enterprise funded solely by Curt and Rita. At that time, Epona's Path had two barns with eleven stalls and ten acres of property. Shortly after Epona's Path opened its doors, the South Florida community became aware of a large group of starving mustangs that had been illegally abandoned on private land in LaBelle, Florida. Two of those mustangs came to Epona's Path, and one of them delivered a foal 7 months later. Since then, Epona's Path has filled its barns and land with rescued horses and foals in dire need. Several of the horses have gone on to forever homes, and some are currently being cared for by Epona's Path in an affiliated sanctuary in Tennessee. Others will likely remain with the rescue for the rest of their lives. Their individual stories will be told over time within these pages.
Right now, the rescue is filled to overflowing and desperately needs more space. Because the operation has grown too large for its founders to support solely on their income, the rescue's ability to carry our its mission is limited. In 2011, Epona's Path became a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. This allows the rescue to seek support from the community it serves, and with this capability and the help of the local citizens, Epona's Path will be able to maintain and grow its horse rescue operations long into the future.
Epona's Path has a philosophy that getting rescued once is enough. For that reason, horses stay in Epona's barns and under their care for however long it takes to find them exactly the right permanent situation. In order to optimize each horse's chance of finding them their perfect forever home, Epona's Path places a strong emphasis on training. Each horse is trained by professionals to have good ground manners, stand for the farrier, be groomed, lead and lunge. During their initial training, each horse is evaluated for their strengths, weaknesses, interests and capabilities and subsequent training is tailored to suit their unique capabilities. Most of our horses are started on trail riding, as this activity is the most pleasant for the horse and rider, places low to no physical and psychological stress on the horse, and provides an excellent opportunity for the horse and rider to relax and bond. Horses that show a keen interest and capability in other activities have the opportunity to learn other disciplines such as jumping, hunt seat, saddle seat and driving.
Last, but not least, Epona's Path places strong emphasis on evaluating the potential adopters of their horses. The potential adopter is carefully screened and interviewed to be certain that there is a perfect fit between them and the horse of their choice. Considerable time and effort is put into this process, and only the most committed persons are selected as owners. It is the hope of the rescue that with time, attention, patience and caring, both horse and adopter will find their perfect forever relationship!