For the third year in a row, a dozen Herculean hunks are baring their chests on behalf of horses.
That’s right. The “Hotties with Heart” calendar is back for 2017, with a dozen new, handsome and muscle-bound male pinups who ride or work with horses.
And this year, for the first time, some horses featured in the $15 calendar are currently available for adoption.
Hotties with Heart raises money each year for Sonoma County’s CHANGE Program, which assists local law enforcement agencies with horses that have been seized due to abuse or neglect.
“We’re a sort of equine transportation, rehabilitation, foster and adoption wing for Sonoma County Animal Services,” said Heather Bailey, the program’s executive director.
Since its 2007 founding, CHANGE has found homes for dozens of horses that are in critical need. Jerome, the 2017 cover horse was found thin, abandoned and hobbling on Lakeville Highway in June of 2015. He had a nail in his foot which had received no veterinary care, causing him pain, infection and lameness. Today, thanks to CHANGE, the 21-year-old appaloosa has recovered from serious injuries and been adopted by a woman in Bodega Bay.
A nonprofit run by volunteers, CHANGE (or Coins to Help Abandoned and Neglected Equines) is entirely supported by donations and sales of Hotties with Heart, which raises $15,000 each year. Calendar sales directly support horses in the foster rehab program.
“The horses we get are the worst of the worst,” Bailey said, “horses that have been truly abused and abandoned. They’re in significant need and danger, and fall into a legal realm that requires them to be taken by law enforcement. Only after being seized by the county do they come to us, although we often help with the seizure.
“In this work, we have the opportunity to see some of the best things about people. Something heartwarming is always happening, and it’s what keeps you going. But we also see some of the dark depths of humanity.”
The narrowness of its mission — taking in only animals that have been seized by law enforcement — differentiates CHANGE from other horse sheltering agencies. “We don’t take owner-surrendered horses,” Bailey says. “We also keep in contact longterm, with one visitation per year to each adopted horse. We make sure that our horses get a permanent home.”
CHANGE keeps the Hotties with Heart calendars lively by using new pinups each year. Models live locally and are involved with horses through work or sport. They might be business owners, amateur riders, trainers, vets, farriers or others.
“Models come to us in a variety of ways,” Bailey said. “Sometimes they approach us, or we might see someone working in the horse industry who would look good in the calendar. We’ll put a call-out on our Facebook page. Everybody on our board is passionate about horses, so we know lots of horse-involved people.”
One of the Hotties for 2017 is November pinup Tim Campbell, owner of Friendly Feed in Fulton.
“Tim has been a fantastic supporter of our programs over the years,” said Bailey. “He always donates to us, and he’s helped to sell our calendars. We’re super excited to have him in this year’s calendar.”
Editor’s Note: In 2013, Melissa Keyser and her husband, Matt, bought an old home within blocks of downtown Santa Rosa that sits on a half acre of land, and she began to document the process of renovating it in a blog she calls Sweet Bee Garden. This is the final installment of their adventure as they prepare for a move to Sacramento, excerpted from sweetbeegarden.com.