‘Mustang builder’ and his wife provide sanctuary for retired racehorses, mustangs and others

Sep 23, 2022

A person who builds Mustangs and then saves wild mustangs – and other horses – outside of work would be the obvious hook for this story. Rather, this is the story of two people who don’t see horses as disposable when they can no longer race or when owners can no longer afford or want them.

Jeffrey Mazur and his wife, Jane, operate the Two Wild Hearts Sanctuary in Clinton, Michigan, near Ann Arbor, and purchase, rehabilitate and care for horses destined for kill trucks and slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.  

Jeffrey works in Stamping and is a trainer at Flat Rock Assembly Plant. He grew up on a farm and always has had an appreciation for animals. Jane Mazur spent 30 years working with racehorses on the East coast and in Canada, usually as a groom/trainer, but then came to Ford in the Finance arena, mainly Ford Component Sales.

With their backgrounds and love of animals, the sanctuary is a natural for them. The sanctuary recently received non-profit tax status, which means it can start applying for grants.

“Sanctuaries are expensive, and grants will help a lot,” Jeffrey said. “We can expand and help even more horses in need.” Until those grants start coming in, the couple pays out of pocket but also accepts donations, plus there are adoption fees covered by those who want to give these horses a forever home.

Currently there is room for 30 horses. Most are American Standardbred (horses used in harness racing) but there also are two Mustangs. The Mazurs own 10 of their own, including a Polish Arabian cross, a Shetland pony, two miniature horses, a Kentucky Mountain horse and a large Amish pony. (The Mazurs bought two wild Mustangs from a kill buyer in Kansas and one of them was pregnant. That Mustang had a filly mule the couple has named Mira.) 

The sanctuary appears to be their destiny. They started smaller at a different farm with less property. A real estate agent friend told them about a house with two barns and more acreage. After a look, the Mazurs made an offer. Within hours of closing on it, they moved five horses from the former home to the new one. Within two weeks, they had rescued enough horses to fill every stall.

“A few months ago I went to Kansas to pick up the Mustangs we have,” Jeffrey said. “We’ve traveled to New York, Pennsylvania and Texas to pick up horses surrendered or destined for kill trucks.”

Horses on kill trucks are not fed or given water from the time they enter the trucks. (It is illegal to slaughter a horse for food in the United States.) 

“It’s a rough time for them. The horses are scared, and they come to us emaciated, sick or wounded,” Jane explained. “Some horses we know cannot be restored to health and we’ll bring them here, so they have a dignified end with love, food, water and care.” 

In their barns, there are five racehorses that have won more than $3 million for their owners. No longer able to run, they were sent to kill pens to be bought by slaughterhouses.

The horses at the sanctuary are seen by veterinarians, cared for to restore health, fed so they return to normal weight and then either stay at the sanctuary or are adopted by those wanting to adopt a horse. Not unlike the rescues for dogs and cats, potential owners are screened to ensure a good fit and a good life for the horse.

The Mazurs have a group of volunteers who help with the day-to-day work at the sanctuary, working in the barns and with the horses. Certain groups – including the FRAP unit of Local 3000 – volunteer to spend a day to help with fencing and other more intensive chores. 

The couple also owns a tack store with horse supplies in their town. Eventually the shop will move to the farm site. The profits from that shop go toward sanctuary upkeep. To keep expenses down, they recently installed a 1,500-kilowatt solar array that will supply all electrical needs with enough left over to sell back to the local power company. With the electrified fences plus the lights in the house and barns, the Mazurs see a monthly electric bill between $400 and $500 right now. 

Jane Mazur and some of the volunteers also work on wildheartssanctuary.org, the sanctuary’s website, and its Twitter account. They are looking to expand awareness of the sanctuary and teach care and handling of horses. 

Jeff is looking to retire in two years and then devote all his time to the sanctuary. Right now, he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. so he can get to the Flat Rock Plant to start his shift, works his 10-hour shift and then goes home to do chores around the farm until 9 or 10 p.m.

 “Some people work and go home to watch TV or have some hobby,” Jeff said. “I don’t do that. I want to spend my time with the horses.”

Doing what you love has its benefits. When Jeff and Jane walk in the paddocks, the horses follow them like puppy dogs. In the barn, they go to the front of their stalls looking for a pet, some kind words and the occasional peppermint candy that horses enjoy.