Annual Report 2022

(Excerpt: For the complete report please write to Epona-Stiftung für Pferd und Umwelt c/o Mermagen, Kesselstr. 15, 53797 Lohmar)

A woman and a horse on a meadow in the evening light

"Wherever man has left his footprints on the long journey from barbarism to civilization, we find a horse's hoofprint alongside," wrote the American writer John Trotwood Moore (1858-1929). The pastures and forests where the horses and ponies of the Epona Foundation for Horses and the Environment live are marked by numerous trails made by the horses' hooves. Horses love routine and they feel safe on familiar paths. In the morning they stand in the shade of a large, old oak tree. In summer, the tree with its spreading branches offers protection from insects and the heat. In winter they stand on a small high plateau where no tree takes away the warmth of the sun.

In 2022, numerous footprints joined the hoofprints. We had visitors from the Spanish Basque Country, from Normandy and southern France, from Germany and Switzerland. The youngest visitor was only a few months old. On her father's arm, Maren stretched out her small hand to touch the head of Kosmos, which suddenly seemed so large. The young parents' fearlessness not only reassured the baby, but also made Kosmos respond with trust and affection. He lowered his head to tell Maren it's ok, you can touch me. Kosmos, who has been with the foundation since it began in 2009, always has a surprise in store. There are days when we only see him from afar, and every step towards him is connected with a step from him in the opposite direction: Just leave me alone. And then he is so affectionate, obviously enjoying it with pursed lips, to be scratched, stroked and brushed. He lays his head heavily on his arm and gives himself whole, full of trust. These are wonderful moments of intimacy, of stillness, only this one moment counts.

Horses at a creek drinking water
Children with a Pony and a dog on a pasture

And Jumpy comes trotting along, hey cosmos, come with me to the meadow by the stream. Kosmos doesn't need to be told that twice, and they're gone, disappeared into the little grove, behind which lies the meadow, where the apple tree stands and the brook bubbling over the thick stones, and behind it the mountain where the cave is our little loner Cookie likes to hide. Horse paradise, and we humans are allowed to participate.

Farewell to Indu

In the summer we had to say goodbye to our little Berber mare Indu. She was on the pasture on August 18th. We saw her from afar and thought she was resting. Because in the morning she was still alert and had waited impatiently for her breakfast together with Jumpy. These two horses have been getting the extra feed for a long time because their old teeth can no longer chop the hay well. It was a hot day and when Indu still hadn't moved after a while we found out that she was dead. There were no signs of colic or other pain. She seemed to have died as peacefully as she had always been in life.


Most of her life she had served the people, enriched her Moroccan owner with numerous foals, tirelessly pulled his cart to the market. When she came to the Epona Foundation in 2012 with her daughter Aloha, she was a tired, emaciated mare who was pregnant again, which we did not know. The little stallion we found by her side one morning only survived a few hours. It wasn't until she came to us in Sora in 2014 that she was able to do what she loved to do in the pastures and in the woods, far away from everyone, grazing and resting. We are happy and grateful that we were able to give Indu a few years of rest and peace with enough food and good company. Thank you Indu for showing us how after everything you've been through, it's still possible to regain trust and confidence.

Extreme Weather

The summer of 2022 was extremely hot, people, animals and plants, old big trees suffered extremely from the drought and heat, and the weakest died. Mercè and her friends alone mourned the death of five horses. Boira, an Arabian mare, was over 30 years old, Marianne's Arabian stallion hadn't been doing well for a long time. He did not survive the heat, as did three rescued horses that arrived at the Mercè farm in a very bad condition with diarrhea and infections. Spain and Portugal were ravaged by conflagrations. We, here at the foot of the Pyrenees, were spared this time and when the first rain fell we all breathed with a sigh of relief.

A herd of horses grazes in the shade of tall trees to protect themselves from the sun.

Apart from Indu, all our horses and ponies came through 2022 well against all odds. The only one that worries us quite a bit is Aloha. Despite all possible treatments and an intensive course of antibiotics, she still has severe pain in her hooves and forms abscesses. Every day we clean her hooves and provide her with EM, the effective microorganisms, and if this is no longer possible, she is given painkillers. Valentina needed surprisingly little medication to relieve her pain. Despite her old bones and injuries from the past, she's doing pretty well. Jumpy is also doing well and obviously feels well, especially when he finally sheds his thick winter coat in early summer after a lot of brushing. Kosmos, with his bad eyesight, is satisfied that he knows the area well. Our mare cloverleaf, Lara and Titia as well as Freya and Triana, are happy about the extensive grounds, where they can romp and play with the ponies Tobby and Cookie to their heart's content.

Tobby und Cookie sind unzertrennlich
A woman hugs a horse while two children stroke its head.

More and more people are asking for help for horse farms that are on the verge of bankruptcy, horse owners who can't pay the bills. It often seems that these people have gotten into such situations through no fault of their own, and in the end it's all about helping the horses. Unfortunately, it is usually not possible for us to help. We are a small organization and we have to work very hard ourselves to make ends meet.

Annie Hasemanns, International Program Adviser Projeto Uerê, reports on Uerê and the situation in Brasil

Projeto Uerê 2021

The election year is over and the socialist Lula won the presidency with a very small margin. Many key positions in the government are still controlled by the right wing party and they will do everything to block Lula's reform attempts. Bolsonaro (Tump 2.0) sofar did not concede publicly that he lost the elections and he has a lot of followers in the Evangelical church. Lula is planning to support the poor, to stop the burning of the Amazon forests and to improve the economy. It remains to be seen whether he can succeed. Under Bolsonaro's ruling the violence went up and everybody seems to have arms at home. Deadly violence against women is the highest since 2015. In the slum Complexo da Maré it is reasonably quiet. In other areas however the big drug faction, the Red Command, is invading slums that previously were controlled by militias. Also in cities like Natal and suburbs, bandits are terrorizing hardworking people, burning busses and private poverty. The government does not seem to know how to tackle it. Yvonne is doing well and the project continues to receive many requests from parents, who would like their children to join. Always tight of money but always managing to complete the year.

Letter from Anderson, Father of Mateus

Mrs. Yvonne, Marlies and Annie, good afternoon! This is Anderson, Mateus Souza Barros' father. The year 2022 is ending and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the years that Mateus was in the Uerê project and the affection and care that everyone had for my son. His cycle in the project is over and the gratitude will be eternal. Just as I was grateful that he joined the project and was part of it, I am grateful even though he is no longer with the project. I learnt from my parents that the virtue of life is gratitude and I do want to wish you all the best, that the year 2023 will bring prosperity in everything you do, that you find many sponsors and that the project can grow each time.
Best wishes to all of you and thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for what you have done all these years for my son.
A big hug.