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Rescued horse is now apple of Wozniak's eye
Thursday, June 14, 2012
By Mark Roberts
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, paid a visit to Peaceful Acres in Rotterdam Junction on Wednesday.
PATTERSONVILLE — When he was discovered early in March, an aging workhorse was being held in a kill pen at a New Jersey auction house, according to Nanci Beyerl, founder of Peaceful Acres Horses.
He was going to be shipped the next day to a slaughterhouse in Canada, but was saved by a donation from a surprising source: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, whose donation helped Peaceful Acres to "bail out" Woz from his kill pen.
"I woke up one morning to find a donation in my PayPal account from Steve Wozniak," Beyerl said.
On Wednesday morning, Wozniak paid a visit to Peaceful Acres to see the horse. Woz wasn't his original name — all horses who arrive at Peaceful Acres are renamed; this one was given the nickname of his savior. According to Beyerl, Wozniak and a volunteer at Peaceful Acres, John Scheib, are friends and exchange personal emails. It was through these emails that Wozniak learned about the animal to be named Woz, and it was through email that Wozniak was invited to come to visit him.
Wozniak was cheerful in interviews at Peaceful Acres. Despite having a plane to catch in Newark, and despite the fact that he was running a little late, he didn't seem to be in much of a rush. He posed for pictures, signed Apple products and spoke about a wide range of topics — from Siri, an Apple application that acts as a personal assistant, to his colorful Nike sneakers.
"We met at the National Inventor's Hall of Fame, which is a part of the Patent Office," Scheib said in explaining the friendship. "We were inducting Steve about 12 years ago, and we travelled together to various conventions and became friends."
"John and Woz — Steve — exchange emails about what's going on in their daily lives, and even though Steve gets millions of emails every day, he still finds time to respond," Beyerl said. "He's pretty familiar with what goes on at Peaceful Acres Horses because he follows the news pretty closely through John."
Regarding why Wozniak was interested in helping Woz, Beyerl said "He's a really, really wonderful guy. He's incredibly compassionate."
Woz is about 20 years old, and judging by pictures on Peaceful Acres' website he was a hard worker in his earlier life. Beyerl says he was badly abused by his previous owners. In an interview with "Schenectady Today," she said "Woz was in bad body condition, and very emaciated. He had a lot of scars from a work harness, which is made of leather and chain."
Peaceful Acres is a nonprofit organization that, according to a pamphlet they produce, "rescues horses who have been abused, neglected, or are no longer able to be cared for."
Peaceful Acres has Mission For Youth programs for children ages 9 to 17. The programs are designed to act as a form of therapy. Besides being good for the children, Beyerl said it's also great for the horses, who often need time and tender care to learn that they can trust people again.
It's not cheap to bail out a horse. Bailing out Woz and another thoroughbred from the auction house in New Jersey cost around $2,000, on top of transportation expenses. Supporting a horse through retirement can cost about $32 a day, Beyerl told "Schenectady Today." With the help of sponsors like Wozniak, though, Peaceful Acres was able to bail out about 16 horses between March and April.
Beyerl and Scheib had been inviting Wozniak to visit Woz since March, and Beyerl said that she was taken by surprise when Wozniak eventually agreed.
"While I was on TV [with "Schenectady Today"], Steve was in Buffalo," Beyerl said. "When I got out of Proctors, I got a call from John that he and Steve had made plans for Steve to come out here."
"He was talking with the horse like it was a person, like it was a child," Beyerl said of Wozniak. "He told Woz the horse that he's just as important as Woz the man. For him to be humble enough to tell this draft horse who was all scarred up, who was going to be killed, that he's just as important as himself — a man who has been so influential in the technological revolution, who co-founded Apple — that's something that really touched me. That's something I'll carry with me forever."