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by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Audrey (L) and Abigail Minch are 13-year-old twins from West Linn who are promoting the new film American Mustang to help stop the slaughter of wild horses. The girls also volunteer with Once Upon a Rescue horse sanctuary outside Wilsonville.Twin sisters Abigail and Audrey Minch of West Linn are just 13 years old, and at first look the girls do not look like crusaders.

They are quiet, reserved, even a bit shy. Bombast is utterly devoid from their makeup.

But appearances are deceiving. The Minch sisters may speak softly but they carry big ideals. They have devoted themselves to the cause of saving the lives of thousands of wild mustangs that roam the West that are in danger of being penned up and sold as dog food, and they are doing it by promoting the new Henry Ansbacher film “American Mustang.”

The girls, students at Rosemont Ridge Middle School, are passing out publicity literature on the film, making products - caps, t-shirts, wraps for horses’ legs - to raise funds for the cause, setting out tables at horse shows, and, most impressive, lining up a long string of speaking engagements at schools, starting Wednesday at Athey Creek Middle School. Speaking in front of large crowds is definitely not in their comfort zone, but to save the mustangs the sisters want to do all they can.

“We don’t see why these horses have to die,” said Abigail. “No horse should go through this pain and torture. That is why I want to get the word out about the movie, so that others can see how special these horses are, and hopefully, they will do something as well.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Abigail Minch is shown here riding at Big Dog Stables outside Oregon City. She and her twin sister Audrey also work with the Once Upon a Rescue sanctuary for horses taken from high-risk situations.“Why do such amazing animals have to be killed for meat?” Audrey said. “We have plenty of vegetables and grain so that we don’t need to kill horses. Mustangs can be great companion animals and don’t need to be rounded up for slaughter.”

The daughters have inherited their big hearts from their mother, Michelle Bombet Minch, who has long fought for the rights and dignity of human beings and animals alike. Michelle enrolled her girls in the cause of helping animals early on, having them volunteering at animal shelters and marching in Portland to promote Fur Free Friday. A major reason for taking this kind of action is that it is demanded by their Jewish faith.

“The girls hold deeply the Jewish value of Tikkun Okam,” Michelle said, “which in Hebrew translates to a shared responsibility to heal the world.”

Both girls are avid horse riders who practice at Big Dog Stables in Oregon City. They also volunteer at Once Upon a Rescue, a horse sanctuary located between Wilsonville and Sherwood. Accordingly, the appeal to help mustangs was very strong for them.

“The girls and I advocate for animal rights,” Michelle said. “We became aware of what was happening to mustangs through our email contacts with other advocates. Perfectly good horses are being placed in holding pens and sold for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. There are other ways to deal with this situation rather than perceive it as a population issue. I’ve met these mustangs. They are so gentle.”

“The farmers are saying the horses are taking up the land,” Audrey said. “But it is really the government’s land, not theirs.”

With guidance from their mom, the girls steadily increased their knowledge about the dilemma of wild horses. Most enlightening were their encounters with people who were already crusading to save the mustangs.

“Meeting them was pretty powerful,” Abigail said.

When the Minch family found out about “American Mustang,” they quickly volunteered to promote the film, which is a combination of a documentary and drama with 3D cinematography. When the sisters contacted Ansbacher they found a movie maker who knew all about young girls loving horses.

“My own kids are 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl,” Ansbacher said. “Alex is the girl and she is a big horse fan.

“When Audrey and Abigail called I knew right away they were very committed,” Ansbacher said. “They might seem a little shy at first, but the twins and their mother are incredibly committed to getting the word out about this movie.”

The campaign of this dynamic trio has already started with getting out the word at horse shows, and it will hit high gear on Wednesday, when Ansbacher will join the girls at Athey Creek Middle School, then Thursday at Rosemont Ridge Middle School. This will be quickly followed by engagements on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and April 19. Pending are speeches at several Lake Oswego schools. Just added to their schedule is an event on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at Oswego Hunt Club.

A really big day will be the premiere of “American Mustang” on April 18 at the Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10 in Portland. A most special guest will be a real live mustang.

“We’re working on getting a permit,” Michelle explained.

Still the movie premiere will be only the beginning of the Minch sisters’ fight to save the mustangs.

“Audrey and Abigail have been asked by Henry to be ongoing ambassadors,” Michelle said. “They will continue to be creative selling products and raising awareness. The horses are their life right now.

“Doing this empowers them to have a voice in something they feel strongly about. Considering how quiet they are, that is very encouraging for me.”

For more about “American Mustang” go to americanmustangthemovie.com. The Minch sisters also have pages on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Audrey Minch prepares her horse for a training session at Big Dog Stables outside Oregon City.

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