In 1994, former jockey and trainer Helen Meredith, a native of Scotland, founded one of the first fully accredited Thoroughbred rescues in the country – the United Pegasus Foundation in San Jacinto, California
“She is an avid equestrian that was moved to start the foundation after seeing a news story about the feedlots in Southern California. Watching once prize winning race horses being discarded and sold by their owners inspired Helen to start saving these noble, beautiful equines in her half-acre back yard. This became the cornerstone of UPF.”
“Helen Meredith is the founder and president of the United Pegasus Foundation.
Helen’s affiliation and love of Thoroughbred horses began in England before she was 16 years old. She then went to France and stayed there for 17 years and became an assistant trainer to Jonathan Pease. She had success as an amateur jockey, riding in over a hundred races in France. In 1989 she came to Southern California and continued working with horses at the racetracks. In 1990, she purchased her own Thoroughbreds and began to race them as the assistant trainer for her new husband Derek Meredith. In 1990, she looked into an investigation of the horse slaughter industry, and by 1994 she had set up one of the first and currently largest Thoroughbred horse rescues in California.
For the past 25 years, she has been caring for approximately 80 to 150 Thoroughbreds at any given time. These horses were either rescued, abandoned or absorbed by other foundations that were unable to care for them any longer. Every time Helen visits a racetrack, she is approached by several people looking for her to place horses. If she is unable to place a horse herself, she will direct them to any available resources to assist them in finding good homes.
In the mid-1990s, Helen began a national campaign to educate the public on the cruelty involved in the unnecessary production of the drug Premarin (unnecessary because there was a synthetic form of this drug available). She fought diligently to let the public know the cruelty behind this drug. Premarin is made from the urine of a pregnant mare. The foals resulting from the pregnancies (50 thousand per year) were a byproduct. They were unwanted and usually sold overseas for slaughter. Helen personally rescued thousands of these Premarin foals, and their rescues helped fund rescues of other Thoroughbred horses. This campaign effectively crippled the production of Premarin and stopped many farms from their production and involvement in this industry.
The United Pegasus Foundation employs roughly five to seven people at any given time. There isn’t one employee that thinks they work harder than Helen. She is the type of boss that tells you to do something and will get right in the trench and do it with you. She is well respected in the industry for all that she has done. She is a role model to other rescues, often advising them on feeding and rescue protocols. She has an ability to combine compassion and pragmatism in a unique way that ensures that every horse that walks into the United Pegasus Foundation will live its life to the fullest with dignity.
Running a horse rescue isn’t glamorous. You don’t get to dress up too often, and the only thanks you receive on a consistent basis is a whinny or a nicker from the horses that nobody else wanted. Helen has dedicated 25 years of her life not only for the horses, but for the industry as well. She recognized a horrific problem and set out to do something about it. People often forget the personal sacrifices that Helen has made to make the United Pegasus Foundation a reality. Being separated from family members and spouse 5-6 days a week can take a toll on most people, and yet she does it because she believes in the work of the foundation and in helping people in this industry find homes for these amazing animals once their racing careers have ended
During her 25 years of service to the Thoroughbred industry, I can without reservation say that Helen Meredith has helped thousands of Thoroughbreds and other horse breeds to find good homes or live out their deserved retirement in comfort at the United Pegasus Foundation sanctuary. The compassion and caring that racetracks and their operators exhibit today are a direct result of strong women in the industry like Helen Meredith who have worked to change the mindset of what was once a very dark chapter in horse racing.”
Joe Schneider – Director, United Pegasus Foundation
For more information about the United Pegasus Foundation, please visit https://www.unitedpegasus.com/HOME.html